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A Strong National Security | Care for Veterans | Mentoring Youth | Patriotism and Honor 




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contents 



September 2008 • Vol. 165, No. 3 



10 Who We Are 

The value of American Legion 
membership can be found in 
the aggregate of four pillars: 
Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation 
National Security, Americanism 
and Children & Youth. 

40 Masters of Disasters 

At Disaster City in Texas, 
thousands of emergency 
responders train for natural 
catastrophes and terrorist 
attacks. By Sue Russell 

46 A Promise Fulfilled 

Rep. Chet Edwards assures 
the Legion that last year's VA 
funding increase won't be a 
one-time shot. ByJeffStoffer 



5 Vet Voice 

8 Big Issues 

10 Commander's Message 

50 Rapid Fire 

60 Comrades 

64 Parting Shots 




A SALUTE TO HEROES 

American Legion National Commander Marty Conatser, 
flanked by Texas Gov. Rick Perry and American Legion 
Auxiliary National President Jan Pulvermacher-Ryan, pays 
tribute to those who made the supreme sacrifice during the 
invasion of Normandy. Thousands of veterans and their 
families traveled to the northwest coast of France during 
the first week of June to recognize the 64th anniversary of 
the D-Day landings. 

Conatser and Pulvermacher-Ryan laid wreaths at the 
Normandy American Cemetery overlooking Omaha Beach 
and later at the town square of Ste. Mere-Eglise, where 
paratroopers landed in the early-morning darkness of 
June 6, 1944, breaching Germany's World War II occupation of 
France and beginning the end of Hitler's reign in Europe. 

The commander participated in numerous D-Day 
anniversary ceremonies while in Normandy and met with 
veterans who survived one of the most significant events 
in U.S. and world history. JeffStoffer 



Cover illustraton by Matt Everett 



The American Legion Magazine, a leader among national general-interest publications, is published monthly by The American Legion for its 2.7 million members. 
These wartime veterans, working through 15,000 community-level posts, dedicate themselves to God and Country and traditional American values; strong national 
security; adequate and compassionate care for veterans, their widows and orphans; community service; and the wholesome development of our nation's youth. 



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NOTICE TO VETERANS WITH 

MESOTHELIOMA 




YOU ARE NOT ALONE IN THIS FIGHT 
TURN TO FELLOW VETERANS. 



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C D ADY 



1 
J 



LAW FIRM 



L THE AMERICAN • 
egion 

{ J MAGAZINE 



NATIONAL COMMANDER 


Marty Conatser 


PUBLISHER 


The American Legion 


EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR 


Daniel S.Wheeler 


EDITOR 


JeffStoffer 


MANAGING EDITOR 


Philip M. Callaghan 


ASSISTANT DIRECTOR/ 




OPERATIONS 


Brandy Ballenger 


ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT 


Joyce Cole 


SENIOR EDITOR 


Steve Brooks 


ASSOCIATE EDITOR 


Matt Grills 


ASSISTANT EDITOR 


James V. Carroll 


CONTRIBUTING EDITOR 


Alan W. Dowd 


ART DIRECTOR 


Holly K.Soria 


DESIGNER 


Matt Everett 


PRODUCTION MANAGER 


Tony Heath 



THE AMERICAN LEGION MAGAZINE COMMISSION 
CHAIRMAN 
VICE CHAIRMAN 
COMMANDER'S 
REPRESENTATIVE 
CONSULTANT 
MEMBERS 



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Terry D. Lewis Philadelphia 
Robert A. Corrigan Bronx, NY 
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James R Angell Sedro Woolley, WA 
Harold R Arnold Statesboro, GA 
Sam Barney Lancaster, OH 
Phillip Boatner Clayton, OK 
Claude B. Carpenter Little Rock, AR 
Donald R. Conn South Bend, IN 
James W. Conway Charlestown, MA 
Philip B. Fi n ley Colby, KS 
Richard A. Font Autaugaville, AL 
Dennis E. Fritz Columbus Junction, IA 
Charles E. H a rtm a n EauClaire.PA 
Theodore HartmannSm/tfifon,//. 
Roy L. Kirkham Minden,LA 
Aleta A. Krauss Claymont,DE 
James J. Leyser Fresno, CA 
Silas M. Noel Frankfurt, KY 
Robert E. Vass Sr. Huntington, WV 
Fra n k C. Wa rd Greenville, SC 

William W. Kile 
Chairman, Petersburg, WV 
Andrew W. Johnson Honolulu 
Cleve Rice St. Anthony, ID 
Floyd W. Turner Birmingham, AL 

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MEMBERSHIP IN THE AMERICAN LEGION 

Veterans who served at least one day of active military duty 
during wartime, or are serving now, are potentially eligible 
for membership in The American Legion. Members must 
have been honorably discharged or still serving honorably. 
eligibility Aug 2, 1990 - current 

Dec. 20,1989 -Jan. 31, 1990 
Aug. 24, 1982 -July 31, 1984 
Feb. 28,1961 - May 7, 1975 
June 25, 1950-Jan.31, 1955 
Dec. 7, 1941 - Dec. 31, 1946 
April 6, 1917 -Nov 11, 1918 
(Merchant Marines who served 
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are also eligible.) 
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'Damned If We Don't' 

Between my involvement in emergency 
preparedness and role as a trainer in WMD 
operations and counterterrorism, I am proud to see 
that our organization has the insight to publish an 
article on an issue of such importance. Our 
infrastructure is at risk in more ways than the 
normal citizen could possibly believe, and few 
organizations have stepped up to the plate to 
both recognize the problems and do 
something about them. 

I would like to see more articles that deal 
with what American Legion members and 
posts can do to become more aware of the 
threats that face us as a nation, and to help 
prepare and respond to these threats. 

Kudos to Ken Olsen for the fine article and wake-up 

-WillordF. 




call. 

GoefckeJr., Lakewood, Co I if. 



Ken Olsen's article is an 
eye-opener. Not living down- 
stream from any dams, I 
hadn't given them much consid- 
eration. However, I now find 
myself profoundly disturbed - 
not only by the state of the 
nation's dams, but even 
more so by FEMA's response 
to the situation. 

To throw up one's hands and 
offer nothing more than a way 
to minimize loss - not if, but 
when the dam fails - bespeaks 
a major failure of government. 
In essence, the government 
would teach those downstream 
how to swim. 

-John W. Glowacki, Warren, Mich. 

Respect for the flag 

Thanks for the article "Re- 
spect for the Red, White and 
Blue" (July). It was brief and 
most informative. I always 
wondered why military flag 
patches worn by our troops 
appear backwards. They're 
moving toward battle. 

Also, kudos to Legionnaires 
Charles Bennett and Travis Hill, 
pictured on the contents page, 
for protecting our flag from 
being trampled at the University 
of Maine-Farmington. 

-Jerry Rubin, Randolph, NJ. 



As a veteran and patriotic 
American, I appreciated the 
article "Respect for the Red, 
White and Blue." It is common 
to see improper displays of the 
flag, but I have long thought 
that wearing flag apparel was 
also improper and misguided. 
Your item on flag apparel 
corrected that misconception, 
for which I am grateful. 

- Dr. Harold Magoun Jr., 
Greenwood Village, Colo. 

"Sacrifices of the Signers' 

Mike Coppock's article 
"Sacrifices of the Signers" 
(July, Rapid Fire) is incorrect 
in saying that five signers 
were captured by the British 
and died after being tortured. 

None died in captivity, and 
none died from torture. The five 
known to be captured were 
Richard Stockton, Edward 
Rutledge, Arthur Middleton, 
George Walton and Thomas 
Heyward Jr. They all were 
released, and most had promi- 
nent roles in founding the 
United States. Stockton appar- 
ently suffered the most from 
his imprisonment but contin- 
ued to live in poor health after 
his release. 

- Milton James, Easton, Md. 



SEPTEMBER 2008 THE AMERICAN LEGION MAGAZINE 



Medal of Honor heroes 

I am pleased to read articles 
about Medal of Honor heroes in 
The American Legion Magazine 
("Rescue in Afghanistan," May). 
The fact that most media ignore 
them leads me to believe that 
they're anti-military. 

- EdMunton, Amargoso Volley, Nev. 

'Behind the Stripes' 

I was appalled by your ar- 
ticle "Behind the Stripes" (July). 
Ralph Peters introduces it by 
stating, from several angles, 
that there is a difference in 
the quality and relevancy of 
information, its truth and its 
level of detail based on whether 
the speaker is non-commissioned 
or commissioned. He purports 
to have been both enlisted and 
officer but clearly regrets making 
the transition; on that basis 
alone, Peters completely neglects 
to interview an officer to validate 
his claim. 

As a Mustang myself 
(Navy corpsman and retired 
Navy commander) who success- 
fully made that transition, I 
can say I still have the same 
DNA as a retiree: officer and 
petty officer. I do agree that a 
commission affords better 
access to the larger perspec- 
tive. However, there is no 
fundamental change in the 
person when the rank insig- 
nia moves from shoulder to col- 
lar. Regardless of the clothing 
you wear on the job, your duty 
is to honorably perform to 
the utmost of your ability. 
The rest of the article was 
fine; the soldiers did all 
the talking. 

- Dennis Snyder, Brookfield, Wis. 



NCOs Todd Hood, Michael W. 
Clauss and Travis Wewers are 
the type of noncommissioned 
officers with whom I would want 
my grandchildren to serve. Ralph 
Peters is to be congratulated for 
the fine article. The NCOs he 
interviewed are military role 
models who are courageous, 
totally dedicated and fully aware 
of the dangers they face every 
day. What great soldiers - the 
best in the world. 

-JackCorty Lexington, Ky 

'Patriot Slave' 

I very much enjoyed the article 
about Tina C. Jones' Revolution- 
ary War ancestor, Oscar Marion 
(July). She deserves credit for 
reminding us how much we owe 
those who have served and 
sacrificed to keep us free. 

This noble burden continues 
to be borne by U.S. servicemem- 
bers, regardless of race or 
gender. Generals - not even 
the "Swamp Fox" - can do it all 
by themselves. 

- Bruce Rider, Grapevine, Texas 

As a Civil War re-enactor and 
amateur historian, I'd like to say 
thanks for this article. African- 
American troops do not receive 
enough recognition today. 

- Fritz Jacobs, Winchester, Ky 

'A Place to Call Home' 

The article "A Place to Call 
Home" (July) brings to mind 
my and my brother's stay at 
the American Legion Childen's 
Billet in Michigan. It's a shame 
it's closed now. It's good to 
know that two such homes are 
still operating. 

- Richard J .Straughen, Eastpointe, Mich. 



'Our Other 

Immigration Problem' 

Alan W. Dowd's article (June) 
is very good. However, he could 
have added a couple other items 
for consideration. On the supply 
side, it's established that those 
illegally in the country are 
breaking the law by their 
presence. How many other 
U.S. laws are they breaking? 

On the demand side, do big 
business and government help 
create the problem by advocating 
a bilingual country? 

- Frederick Ebner, Brick, N.J. 

'The Safety Net' 

As a patriotic American and 
a veteran, I was appalled by this 
article (June). A military draft 
would be devastating to our 
country. The Selective Service is 
unconstitutional. I was shocked 
to see the Legion, one of the 
strongest voices for the military 
and veterans, praise this mea- 
sure. You should be working to 
help keep our soldiers and fellow 
Americans out of war, not 
helping push the government 
into more unnecessary conflicts. 

- Nathan Bobay Indianapolis 

'A Salute to Military Fathers' 

The cover of the June issue 
depicting a salute to a military 
father brought back fond memo- 
ries of Norman Rockwell's many 
caricatures. They appeared on 
the cover of the old Collier's 
magazine in the 1930s and 1940s 
and never failed to trigger a 
variety of positive emotional 
feelings. Perhaps Derek Mueller 
will become the Norman Rock- 
well of the 20th century. 

-Daniel Kelly ArdsieyN.Y. 



THE AMERICAN LEGION MAGAZINE WELCOMES YOUR OPINIONS 

Include your hometown and a daytime phone number for verification. All letters published are subject to editing. 
Due to the volume of mail received, not every letter can be acknowledged. 
The American Legion Magazine, P.O. Box 1055, Indianapolis, IN 46206 
magazine@legion.org 

g THE AMERICAN LEGION MAGAZINE | SEPTEMBER 2008 



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BIG ISSUES 



Climate Security Act of 2008 




SUPPORT 



Sen. Amy Klobuchar, 
D-Maine 

■ Klobuchar serves on the Senate 
Environment, Commerce and 
Agriculture committees. 




Last December, the U.S. Air Force unveiled 
140 acres of solar energy panels at Nellis Air Force 
Base in Nevada. On the same day, a C-17 transport 
plane made the Air Force's first cross-country 
flight using a blend of synthetic fuel. 

These are just two of the 
many major investments 
in innovative energy technol- 
ogy being made by the branch- 
es of the U.S. military, the 
largest energy consumer in 
the country. 

Our military leaders recog- 
nize that climate change, 
energy and national security are interrelated 
challenges. They know that man-made climate 
change is a real problem. They also know it 
requires real solutions, including changes in how 
we produce and consume our energy. 

The good news is that Congress is no longer 
debating whether global climate change is real. 
Unfortunately, the Climate Security Act, intro- 
duced and co-authored last October by Sens. Joe 
Lieberman, I-Conn., and John Warner, R-Va., 
was blocked this year by a Senate rule requiring 
60 votes to proceed. 

The Lieberman-Warner legislation proposes that 
the fairest, most effective way to combat climate 
change is to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions with 
market incentives. These emissions have a real 
cost to our environment, so they should also have 
a price. The market can then work its magic, with 
incentives for industries to reduce their emissions. 

The United States has always been a country that 
sees opportunity where others see adversity. 
Today, the challenge of climate change offers us an 
opportunity to create a more secure energy future 
for the next generation. Our military is already 
taking the lead. Now it's time for all of America to 
seize the moment. 



THE HEART OF THE ISSUE 

The Lieberman-Warner Climate 
Security Act seeks reduction of 
greenhouse gas emissions through 
market incentives. Critics say the bill 
will result in higher energy costs and 
the loss of millions of U.S. jobs. 



OPPOSE 

Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo. 

■ Bond is vice chairman of the 
Senate Select Intelligence Committee. 



We can and must cut carbon emissions. Unfor- 
tunately, carbon-cap plans such as the recent 
Lieberman-Warner bill before Congress will hurt 
families without lowering global temperatures. 
We all depend on gas for our cars, heat and 
air conditioning for our 
homes, and power for lights 
and appliances. Under 
carbon-cap plans, Ameri- 
cans will face staggering 
cost increases for these 
everyday necessities. 

Lieberman-Warner spon- 
sors admitted their plan 
would cost over $6.7 trillion. While they may 
intend for energy companies will pay these costs, 
we know they would just pass these costs on to 
the American people in the form of greater pain 
at the pump, higher power bills and lost jobs. 

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 
estimated that the bill would raise the price of 
gasoline $1.40 per gallon, raise power bills 44 per- 
cent by 2030, and force upon families $4,377 on 
average in higher energy prices. 

I also opposed the Climate Security Act for 
the harm it would cause blue-collar manufactur- 
ing workers in energy-dependent sectors. Work- 
ers supporting middle-class families by making 
steel, aluminum, plastics, chemicals, fertilizer, 
paper and more would see their jobs go overseas 
to countries in Asia and the Middle East that 
have cheaper energy costs. One manufacturing 
group estimated total job loss at 3 million to 
4 million nationwide. 

All of this pain would be for nothing, since the 
Environmental Protection Agency estimated that 
passing Lieberman-Warner would have almost no 
effect on world temperatures if China and India - 
who have already rejected the idea - did not 
adopt similar plans. 



CONTACT YOUR LEADERS 

The Honorable (name), U.S. Senate, Washington, DC 20510 • Phone: (202) 224-3121 

The Honorable (name), U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, DC 20515 • Phone: (202) 225-3121 



8 



THE AMERICAN LEGION MAGAZINE | SEPTEMBER 2008 



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Who We Are: The Four Pillars of The American Legion 



The Four Pillars 

The value of American Legion Membership 
is built around four major missions. 



In southern California, a Vietnam War 
veteran who knows firsthand the cruel 
realities of homelessness now leads one 
of the nation's most dynamic efforts to 
help severely wounded troops find their 
way home from war, sometimes with 
missing limbs, mental 
illness or broken families. 

In a courtroom at Guan- 
tanamo Bay, Cuba, a Chi- 
nese-American veteran from 
New York City closely 
monitors legal proceedings 
to assure that detainees 
from the war on terror are 
given fair opportunities to 
plead their cases. 

In a college corridor in 
Maine, a patriotic veteran 
stands with his arms folded 
and stops students from 
walking across a U.S. Flag laid out on the 
floor. He is threatened with arrest before 
the so-called "art" project is removed. 

A group of veterans in Alabama takes 
an annual motorcycle ride to a summer 
camp for children with cancer. Termi- 
nally ill youngsters thrill to the rumble of 
the big bikes. They try on helmets. They 
twist the throttles. The veterans drop off 
a check for $10,000 before heading out. 
These are some extraordinary veterans. 
They are also members of The Ameri- 
can Legion. 

And their stories can be multiplied 
thousands of times over, across the 
nation and around the world. They abide 
by the preamble of a constitution nearly 
90 years ago, words that are held aloft 
on four main pillars of service and 
advocacy: 

■ Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation 

■ National Security 

■ Americanism 

■ Children & Youth 




National Commander 

Marty Conatser 



Last spring, I asked our National 
Headquarters staff to prepare a "white- 
paper" report to provide information for 
the leading presidential candidates this 
year. Its intent was to spell out The 
American Legion's positions on VA health 
care, veterans benefits 
claims, the GI Bill, jobs and 
business opportunities, 
adjustment assistance for 
wounded warriors returning 
home, and other important 
issues taken up by our 
Veterans Affairs & Rehabilita- 
tion Commission. These are, 
indeed, major aspects of 
what we do. 

But that's not all we do. 
And so, the report needed to 
be expanded. 
The new commander 
in chief also needs to understand 
The American Legion's ongoing 
commitment to success in the global 
war on terrorism - that we support the 
troops and their mission. 

The candidates need to know that 
The American Legion opposes illegal 
immigration and amnesty for illegal 
aliens, but fully supports opportunities 
for legal immigration. The candidates 
need to know that a full accounting of 
our POW/MIAs is a sacred priority, as is 
a decent quality of life for military 
personnel and their families. The candi- 
dates need to know that the strength of 
American Legion conviction on issues we 
include within the pillar known as 
National Security. 

No candidate should ever question our 
patriotism. Upon the pillar of American- 
ism, this organization promotes obedi- 
ence to law and order, and respect for the 
U.S. Flag. The American Legion builds 
enthusiasm for public service among 



10 



THE AMERICAN LEGION MAGAZINE | SEPTEMBER 2008 



young people through such programs as Boys 
Nation and the National Oratorical Contest. 
We will never abandon Boy Scouts of Ameri- 
ca as it fights disingenuous lawsuits filed by 
profit-minded legal organizations. We believe 
God deserves a place in the Pledge of Alle- 
giance to the United States of America, and in 
the town square, too. 

The roots of the fourth pillar - Children & 
Youth - reach back to the combat-weary 
doughboys who founded The American 
Legion. They survived trench warfare, 
machine-gun firefights, mid-air dogfights and 
mustard gas. When they called their first 
caucus at Paris in 1919, they focused not on 
themselves but on the children and youth of 
America. They knew that children were made 
orphans by the war, and that many had little 
chance to succeed without help. The slogan 
they coined resonates today: "A Square Deal 
for Every Child." Millions of dollars have 
since been raised and innumerable hours 
have been volunteered by Legionnaires, in 
order to help children who are sick or in 
need, or simply looking for opportunities to 
achieve their goals. The American Legion has 
advocated on their behalf, fighting against 
such social ills as child pornography, teen 
suicide, drug abuse and violence at home. 

The American Legion, with 2.7 million 
members and more than 14,000 posts, has 
flourished since 1919 because of these pillars, 
these values. The pillars are us, and we are 
them. As you read the following pages, take 
pride. You are among millions of extraordi- 
nary veterans who call themselves Legion- 
naires, past, present and future. And it is our 
duty to keep strengthening the pillars. 




PREAMBLE 

to The American Legion 
Constitution 



FOR GOD AND COUNTRY, WE 
ASSOCIATE OURSELVES TOGETHER FOR 
THE FOLLOWING PURPOSES: 

To uphold and defend the Constitution 
of the United States of America; 

to maintain law and order; 

to foster and perpetuate a 

one hundred percent Americanism; 

to preserve the memories and incidents 
of our associations in the Great Wars; 

to inculcate a sense of individual obligation 
to the community, state and nation; 

to combat the autocracy of both 
the classes and the masses; 

to make right the master of might; 

to promote peace and good will on earth; 

to safeguard and transmit to Posterity the 
principles of justice, freedom and democracy; 

to consecrate and sanctify our comradeship 
by our devotion to mutual helpfulness. 



SEPTEMBER 2008 THE AMERICAN LEGION MAGAZINE 



Who We Are: The Four Pillars of The American Legion 



Pillar I: Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation 




The American Legion has for nearly 90 years 
acted as the nation's leading advocate for 
proper health care, economic opportunity and 
legal benefits for U.S. military veterans. The Legion 
was instrumental in the creation of the Veterans 
Administration in 1930 and an ardent supporter of 
its elevation to cabinet status when it became the 
Department of Veterans Affairs in 1989. The 
relationship between VA and The American Legion 
continues to evolve today. 

As it has for decades, The American Legion 
continues to aggressively lobby for adequate 
funding of VA health care, timely access to facili- 
ties, fair rulings on benefit claims and economic 
opportunities for those who have come home 
changed by their military experience. A nation- 
wide network of American Legion department 
service officers works diligently to assist veterans 
as they pursue benefits and care they earned and 
deserve. At the local, state and national levels, 
thousands of Legionnaires provide countless hours 
to help veterans understand their benefits. The 
American Legion provides professional representa- 
tion in claims appeals, discharge disputes and 
transition assistance from active-duty to civilian 
status throughout the country. 

Today, as the number of discharged veterans 
from the global war on terrorism has surpassed 
500,000, the Legion's federally chartered role to 
support them could not be more profound. The 
Legion strongly believes that a veteran is a 



veteran, no matter the war era, nature or location 
of service. In that light, The American Legion is 
the only organization that works on behalf of all 
24.5 million U.S. veterans, and all who will follow. 

The American Legion stands on the front line of 
change in the pillar of service known as "Veterans 
Affairs & Rehabilitation." 

It is a complex and vital part of the organiza- 
tion's mission, particularly now, as a new genera- 
tion of wartime veterans enters the civilian and 
VA world. 

Following are Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation 
issues of high priority to The American Legion: 

Access to VA Health Care. VA has undergone a 
well-documented evolution in the past 25 years, 
dramatically increasing quality of care beyond that 
of the private or public sectors. An equally well- 
documented problem, however, is access to that 
high-quality care. Access to VA care is restricted in 
many ways, including: 

■ Denial of VA health care to veterans of certain 
demographic characteristics. The continued 
budget-driven suspension of Priority Group 8 
veterans from new enrollment in the VA health- 
care system defies the spirit and intention of the 
Veterans Health Care Eligibility Reform Act of 
1996 and denies access to the population of 
veterans most likely to contribute to the cost of 
their own care. Among those Priority Group 8 



J 2 THE AMERICAN LEGION MAGAZINE | SEPTEMBER 2008 









-A 

Ife tM " Sean Crosier 



A System worth Saving' 

American Legion field staff research and visit 
VA medical facilities throughout the nation each 
year and produce a comprehensive assessment. 
The "System Worth Saving" report provides in-depth 
analyses of VA health-care performance in all 
21 Veterans Integrated Service Networks. 

The project, launched in 2002 and 2003, continues 
under the guidance of the Legion's System Worth 
Saving Task Force and the Veterans Affairs & 
Rehabilitation Division. 



veterans are many with service-connected 
disabilities who are denied enrollment. 

■ New VA facilities await construction in many 
areas of veteran population growth. The Capital 
Asset Realignment for Enhanced Services 
(CARES) decision of 2004 identified urgent needs 
across the country for new VA hospitals and 
clinics in areas of fast veteran population 
growth. Four years later, only a fraction of those 
construction projects are funded and actually 
under way. 

■ Long waiting times for appointments drive 
away veterans in overburdened VA markets. 

Waiting times for VA doctor appointments can 
take months. At one point in recent years, more 
than 300,000 veterans were waiting 30 days or 
more for primary-care appointments. The 
waiting time to see a VA specialist is typically 
even more frustrating, often taking months. 

■ Failure to adjudicate VA benefits claims and 
appeals in a timely manner denies access to 
veterans in need. VAs backlog of more than 
400,000 undecided claims, along with thousands 
of disputed decisions that have not been recon- 
ciled, denies care by delaying it. 

■ VA health-care facilities must be adequately 
staffed with health-care providers who receive 
competitive compensation. In too many markets 
across the country, doctor, nurse and technician 
shortages lead VA to seek more expensive and 
less efficient services from outside providers. 
Inadequate staffing prevents VA from keeping 
timely appointment schedules and drives veteran 
patients away in many markets. 

■ Restricted access unnecessarily sends veterans 
to private contractors for health care formerly 
available to them in VA facilities. Particularly 
for long-term care and mental-health services, 
VA increasingly relies on outside contractors who 
not understand the unique needs of veterans 
who consistently suffer from such conditions as 
combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder, 
traumatic brain injury, Agent Orange exposure 
and other service-connected problems. 

■ Veterans in rural areas are often denied access 
by the sheer distance between their homes and 
the VA medical centers equipped to serve them. 
Many plans have been piloted to enhance care 
for rural veterans, but significant improvement - 
aside from a recent mileage-reimbursement 
increase from 11 cents to 28 cents per mile - has 
yet to be realized. Without greater VA clinical 
presence in many areas of the country, access is 
denied to these veterans. 



A Better Funding Formula for VA Health Care. 

The discretionary process of funding the Veterans 
Health Administration is flawed because it fails to 
match actual dollars with actual demand. This 
breakdown has led to numerous emergency 
funding actions by Congress and has left VA 
without any new budget at all to begin a new fiscal 
year for over a decade. VA must be funded on the 
basis of real cost, without burdening veterans on 
fixed incomes by doubling deductibles and install- 
ing new enrollment fees that do not guarantee 
timely access to care. VA administrators must be 
given workable budgets to begin their fiscal year; 
the practice of running VA health-care facilities on 
questionable cost estimates in multiple continuing 
resolutions must cease. Enrollment fees are paid 
through honorable military service, not out of 
veterans' pockets, as a hedge against a miscalcu- 
lated discretionary budget. New patient enrollment 
fees and dramatic co-payment increases are not 
viable options to balance VAs medical-care budget. 



SEPTEMBER 2008 | THE AMERICAN LEGION MAGAZINE J3 



Who We Are: The Four Pillars of The American Legion 



The American Legion supports: 

■ A mandatory funding formula for VA health care, 
based on dollars per patient, indexed annually 
for inflation. 

■ The authorization of VA to collect Medicare 
reimbursements for services provided to enrolled, 
Medicare-qualified, non-service-connected veter- 
ans, similar to the authorization granted to other 
Indian Health Services and TRICARE for Life. 

■ The reinstatement of Priority Group 8 veterans 
and improved performance standards in collec- 
tions from their insurance companies. 

■ Protection from a doubling of prescription 
co-payments and/or the introduction of annual 
VA health-care enrollment fees. 




The Legion's network 
of service officers 

The American Legion maintains a network of 
approximately 1,700 professional, accredited 
representatives - known also as service officers 
or department service officers - who are officially 
recognized by VAto provide representation and 
assistance to veterans and their dependents. 
The service is provided free of charge, regardless 
of membership. 

The American Legion National Headquarters also 
maintains fully staffed offices of professional appeals 
representatives at VA's Board of Veterans Appeals 
and Appeals Management Center. National appeals 
representatives at the BVA and AMC provide direct 
representation to veterans and survivors whose 
claims are denied at the regional office level and 
then appealed. 

The American Legion also works with the National 
Veterans Legal Services Program, a nonprofit veterans 
law firm and consultant to The American Legion and 
the Veterans Consortium, to ensure that Legion- 
represented claims denied by the BVA have access 
to the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. 



■ A mandate to give VA health-care facility admin- 
istrators the budgets they need at the beginning 
of each fiscal year. 

Veterans With Special Needs. The American 
Legion strongly supports efforts to improve 
services, advance research and deliver compas- 
sionate treatment to veterans with special 
needs, such as: 

■ Those who have become homeless since discharge. 

■ Those who suffer from traumatic brain injuries 
and/or mental illness. 

■ Those who have suffered multiple combat injuries, 
defined as "polytrauma." 

■ Those who battle with conditions related 

to Agent Orange exposure, Gulf War illness, 
radiation exposure due to atomic testing, mus- 
tard-gas exposure and other medical prob- 
lems linked, or presumably linked, to mili- 
tary service. 

The Legion specifically urges VA and Con- 
gress to fund and adequately staff a greater 
number of Vet Centers around the country, 
which provide mental health and occupational 
outreach to thousands of veterans who otherwise 
look to the VA medical system for help, or who end 
up on the street. 

The Legion also supports recommendations 
from the President's Commission on Care for 
America's Returning Wounded Warriors to en- 
hance focus on traumatic brain injury and PTSD 
among veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom and 
Operation Enduring Freedom. The Legion also 
supports new VA polytrauma centers across the 
country to manage unique problems faced by 
OIF and OEF combat veterans. 

Career Opportunities for Veterans. Job and 

education opportunities are pushed aside to 
make time for military service. Career advance- 
ment and college educations are often delayed. 
For some veterans returning to civilian life with 
physical disabilities or personal problems, such 
a transition can be daunting. The Legion's Eco- 
nomic Division, a major part of the Veterans 
Affairs & Rehabilitation pillar, works specifically 
in that area. 

A GI Bill for a New Century. The American Legion 
worked closely with Congress to help pass a new 
GI Bill last summer. However, many veterans do 
not fully understand the education benefit and 
how it can help them. The Legion is now working 
on an outreach effort to provide information. 



14 



THE AMERICAN LEGION MAGAZINE | SEPTEMBER 2008 




Employment and Business. The American Legion 
actively participates in numerous acts of outreach 
for veterans seeking employment or business 
opportunities after military service. The Legion 
aggressively lobbies for veterans preference laws 
and compliance with laws designed to provide 
incentives for disabled-veteran entrepreneurship. 
Similarly, the Legion's Economic Division assists 
in job and career fairs throughout the country 
and works to protect the careers and benefits of 
reservists and National Guardsmen during mili- 
tary deployments. 

Heroes to Hometowns. The American Legion's 
Heroes to Hometowns program helps severely 
injured U.S. servicemembers successfully transi- 
tion back into their communities and civilian lives. 
Technically a national program, Heroes to Home- 
towns, or H2H, cannot work without the grassroots 
efforts of American Legion posts. 

The American Legion works closely with DoD 
and VA to identify veterans in need and provide 
readjustment help and mentoring at the local level. 

Final Respects. The American Legion works 
closely with the National Cemetery Administration 
(NCA), Arlington National Cemetery, and other 
federal and state governments and entities to 
ensure a proper burial for all veterans as well as 
honorable burial services for the veteran, the 
family of the veteran, and other loved ones. The 
Legion also serves as a major coordinator of the 
Missing in America Project, which ensures that 
cremated remains of veterans, long forgotten in 
funeral homes, hospitals and other establishments, 
are respectully laid to rest. The American Legion 
provides a large portion of the Missing in America 
Project's volunteers. 




Careers for veterans 

The American Legion's Economic Division and 
the Legion's Veterans Small Business Task Force 
actively pursue new career opportunities for 
veterans through job fairs and business workshops 
across the country. The American Legion has formal 
partnerships with RecruitMilitary, LLC, Avue 
Technologies and Military.com, a subsidiary of 
Monster.com, to participate in a robust schedule of 
career fairs throughout the year. 

The Legion also has aggressively lobbied for 
improved compliance of laws that require no 
less than 3 percent of federal contracts be awarded 
to businesses owned by service-disabled veterans, 
along with other opportunities for veteran 
entrepreneurs. 

www.vetjobs.us 

www. m i I ita ry.com 

www.recruitmilitary.com 

American Legion Economic Division 
(202) 861-2700, ext. 1514 



BACKLOG OF PENDING VBA CLAIMS 

The backlog of pending Veterans Benefits 
Administration claims, as of June 28, 2008, had 
reached 633,277. Of those, 390,933 were rating cases. 
Since the end of 2004, when 321,458 rating cases were 
pending, the backlog has grown. 

Between 2006 and 2007, the number of pending ratings 
cases increased by about 14,000. Over 25 percent of the 
cases were pending for longer than 180 days. At the end 
of fiscal 2007, the average number of days to complete a 
claim from date of receipt was 182.5 days, up 5.4 days 
from the previous year. 

Inadequate staffing levels, lack of continuing education, 
and increased pressure to make quick decisions result in 



CREATES VETERAN JOB OPPORTUNITIES 

an overall decrease in quality of work. These are among 
the most common complaints raised by regional office 
employees interviewed by American Legion staff 
during regional office quality checks. It is unrealistic to 
expect VA, with current staffing levels, to continue to 
process an ever-increasing workload while maintaining 
quality and timeliness. 

The current wartime situation provides an excellent 
opportunity for VA to actively seek out returning 
veterans from Operation Enduring Freedom and 
Operation Iraqi Freedom, especially those with service- 
connected disabilities, for employment opportunities 
within VBA. 

SEPTEMBER 2008 | THE AMERICAN LEGION MAGAZINE \ 5 



Who We Are: The Four Pillars of The American Legion 



The American legion's positions on the dole-Shalala report 



The February 2007 exposure of 
unsanitary conditions in an 
outpatient facility operated by 
Walter Reed Army Medical Center 
led to national outrage. 

The American Legion responded 
swiftly by coordinating with DoD to 
install a service officer on post to 
provide transition assistance, 
including representation before 
military evaluation boards. 

The facility in question, Building 18, 
was largely occupied by service 
personnel awaiting medical discharge 
decisions when the unsanitary 
conditions were exposed. 

The exposure also led to the 
appointment of former U.S. Sen. 
Robert Dole and former U.S. Health 
and Human Services Secretary Donna 
Shalala to lead a presidential 
commission to study the problem 
and make recommendations. 

The President's Commission 
on Care for America's Returning 
Wounded Warriors produced 
six recommendations to improve 
the process for wounded and 
ill personnel. 

The American Legion generally 
agrees with the commission's 
philosophy and intention, although 
some recommendations require 
further study and clarification. 

Recommendation: Create a patient- 
centered recovery plan that provides 
the right care and support at the right 
time in the right place, for every 
seriously injured servicemember, 
through a corps of well-trained 
recovery coordinators around the 
country. 

The American Legion position: 

Servicemembers and their 
dependents can be overwhelmed 
dealing with the bureaucracies of 
multiple government departments or 
agencies. Having one point of contact 
for all their needs is a step in the right 
direction, but it is also important to 
involve existing transition programs 
offered by DoD, VA, the military and 
veterans service organizations. 



Recommendation: Restructure 
the disability and compensation 
system to better coordinate DoD 
and VA. This can be accomplished 
by updating and simplifying the 
disability determination and 
compensation system, eliminating 
parallel activities, reducing 
inequities, and providing a solid 
base for injured veterans to resume 
productive lives. 

The American Legion positions: 

VA has a backlog of undecided 
claims and appeals that will not 
be relieved until adequate staffing 
is provided. 

The disability examination 
process, as proposed, would be 
under sole control of DoD. VA 
would then assign disability ratings 
without any input in the medical 
examination process, creating 
potential for conflicts. 

Any intent to diminish VA's 
ratings system - which effectively 
centers on lost economic and 
career opportunity - would be 
strongly opposed. 

If VA disability compensation leads 
to forfeited Social Security benefits, 
the Legion strongly opposes it. 

Transition payments should not 
be considered compensation. 
They are bridge payments that 
would be an additional benefit 
to compensation. 

Claimants, under this recommenda- 
tion, have limited opportunity to 
appeal DoD medical decisions. 

A periodic-review requirement 
for VA to re-evaluate every three 
years every veteran whose condition 
is not classified as permanent and 
total in nature will strain an already- 
burdened system. 

Recommendation: Aggressive 
prevention and treatment of post- 
traumatic stress disorder and 
traumatic brain injury. 

The American Legion position: Full 

agreement. 



Recommendation: Significantly 
strengthen family-support programs 
including expanding DoD respite care 
and extending the Family and Medical 
Leave Act for up to six months for 
spouses and parents of the seriously 
injured. 

The American Legion position: The 

American Legion agrees with the 
intent of this recommendation and its 
goals but would add that the benefits 
must be expanded to include all 
military personnel who suffer severe 
injuries, not just those wounded in 
combat. The American Legion also 
recommends closely evaluated 
six-month extensions to 
accommodate service personnel 
whose recoveries require more time. 

Recommendation: Rapidly 
transfer patient information 
between DoD and VA to get clinical 
and benefit data to users as soon 
as possible. In addition, DoD and 
VA should jointly develop an 
interactive "My eBenefits" Web site 
that provides a single information 
source for servicemembers. 

The American Legion position: 

Numerous hearings and millions of 
dollars have been applied since 2000 
to the need for DoD and VA to share 
critical medical information on 
patients being seen or transferred 
out. The American Legion has 
repeatedly supported the unfettered 
transfer of medical records between 
DoD and VA. The American Legion 
supports a "My eBenefits" site but 
adds that more direct coordination is 
needed beyond a shared Web site. 

Recommendation: Strongly support 
Walter Reed Army Medical Center by 
recruiting and retaining first-rate 
professionals through 2011 when it 
closes and is moved to Bethesda, Md. 

The American Legion position: The 

American Legion opposes the closing 
of Walter Reed Army Medical Center 
and urges its full funding to ensure 
the best possible care for 
servicemembers. 



15 THE AMERICAN LEGION MAGAZINE | SEPTEMBER 2008 




A Timely Salute 
to the U.S. Navy 



The U.S. Navy has defended the shores of freedom since 
the days of the American Revolution. They serve the 
country with honor, manning the decks of mighty air- 
craft carriers and "Tin Can" destroyers, ready at a 
moment's notice to sail the seven seas in the name 



Honor the Heroes of the 
High Seas 

Pay tribute to the proud history 
of the U.S. Navy every day 
with this Cuckoo Clock 
featuring artist Dennis 
Lyall's montage imagery. 
Hand-crafted with a real wood case, 
sculpted artist's resin adornments and 
Old World styling, this handsome 
timepiece features soaring eagle 
sculpture at the top, flanked by 
sculpted U.S. and Navy flags. A pre- 
cise quartz movement powers the clock's 
hands as well as the pendulum underneath. 
And, at the beginning of each hour, the door 
at the top of the cabinet opens... and a hand- 
painted, sculptural cuckoo in a sailor's uniform 
emerges with a chirping melody. 

Strictly Limited. . .Order Today! 

Strong demand is expected, so act now to 
acquire Hour of Glory Cuckoo Clock at its 
$149.95* issue price, payable in five install- 
ments of $29.99 each. Your purchase is backed 
by our 365-day money-back guarantee. Send no 
money now. Just mail the Reservation 
Application today! 



©2008 BGE 01-04492-001-BI 



Clock case shown much 
smaller than actual size of 
appr. 18 inches tall x 3 
inches deep 

Requires 2 "D" and 1 
"AA" battery, not 
included. 



Neither the U.S. Navy n< 
other component of the 
Department of Defense' 
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Who We Are: The Four Pillars of The American Legion 




The Legion's role at 

Legionnaire and U.S. Marine Corps 
veteran Jerry Johnson plays a critical 
and evolving role at Walter Reed 
Army Medical Center in Washington. 
In March 2007, The American Legion 
and DoD signed a memorandum of 
understanding that gave Johnson an 
office on the hospital campus and a 
mission to help military men and 
women through the transition into 
civilian and VA life. 

Since then, Johnson has connected 
hundreds of wounded and sick 
servicemembers and newly disabled 
veterans with resources that can help 
them in their communities, services 
like The American Legion's 
nationwide Heroes to Hometowns 
program. The American Legion staff 
position on post gives the 
organization personal access to men 
and women who need help with such 



WALTER REED 

concerns as medical evaluations, 
discharge reviews and employment 
opportunities after separation. 

The agreement between DoD and 
The American Legion was reached 
after unsanitary conditions at Building 
18, an outpatient facility near the 
Walter Reed campus, were exposed in 
the media. The facility provided 
residential care for military personnel 
in the out-processing transition to 
their civilian lives. 

Johnson, a trained and Legion- 
certified veterans service officer, 
meets regularly with military 
personnel, one-on-one and in group 
settings, to alert them to the 
resources and opportunities available 
as they prepare to return home. 

jerry.johnson@amedd.army.mil 
(202) 356-1012 




DISABILITY BENEFITS REFORM 

The American Legion has persistently fought for improvements to VA's disability claims backlog, the ratings process, and 
the general disconnect between DoD and VA in terms of medical evaluation and disability evaluation. The independent 
Veterans Disability Benefits Commission evaluated and assessed veterans benefits provided under the law and provided 
113 recommendations for improvement. Here are some of the recommendations and American Legion positions on them: 



Recommendation: Update the 
current rating schedule and keep it 
up to date. 

The American Legion position: The 

American Legion agrees that, although 
most major aspects in the 
rating schedule have been updated 
over the years, a substantial revision is 
needed. However, the current rating 
schedule is not the cause of all major 
problems with the VA disability 
compensation process. 

Recommendation: VA should develop 
and implement new criteria specific to 
post-traumatic stress disorder in the VA 
Schedule for Rating Disabilities. VA 
should base those criteria on The 
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of 
Mental Disorders and should consider 
a multidimensional framework for 
characterizing disability due to PTSD. 

The American Legion position: The 

American Legion strongly supports 
this recommendation. 

Recommendation: Improve claims- 
processing cycle time by establishing 



a simplified and expedited process for 
well-documented claims, using best 
business practices and maximum 
feasible use of information technology, 
and implementing an expedited 
process by which the claimant can 
state the claim information is complete 
and waive the time period (60 days) 
allowed for further development. 
Congress should mandate and provide 
appropriate resources to reduce the 
VA claims backlog by 50 percent within 
two years. 

The American Legion position: 

The American Legion opposes this 
recommendation. The imposition 
of arbitrary deadlines can often 
over-simplify cases and lead to a 
sacrifice of quality. 

Recommendation: Congress should 
increase compensation rates up to 
25 percent as an interim and baseline 
future benefit for loss of quality of life, 
pending development and implemen- 
tation of a quality-of-life measure in 
the rating schedule. 



The American Legion position: 

The American Legion supports 
an increase in compensation 
benefits to adequately account 
for a service-connected 
disability's impact on a veteran's 
quality of life. 

Recommendation: Congress 
should eliminate the ban on 
concurrent receipt for all military 
retirees and for all those who 
separated from the military due to 
service-connected disabilities. 
Priority should be given to veterans 
who separated or retired from the 
military under Chapter 61 with fewer 
than 20 years of service and a service- 
connected disability rating greater 
than 50 percent, or disability as the 
result of combat. 

The American Legion position: 

The American Legion strongly 
supports full concurrent receipt of 
both military retirement pay and 
VA disability compensation for those 
who qualify for both. 



lg THE AMERICAN LEGION MAGAZINE | SEPTEMBER 2008 



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Who We Are: The Four Pillars of The American Legion 



Pillar II: National Security 





To those who have sworn with their lives to 
protect the United States against enemies near 
and far, national security is a deeply held value. 
The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, exposed this 
nation's vulnerabilities and magnified the impor- 
tance of this value not only for military veterans, 
but for all Americans. The American Legion has, 
since 9/11, passed national resolutions supporting 
and reconfirming its support for the global war on 
terrorism and for all who have critical responsibili- 
ties in it: the administration; the Congress; the 
departments of Defense, State and Homeland 
Security; and, foremost, the troops and civilians 
fighting to keep acts of terrorism from occurring 
again on U.S. soil. 

The American Legion's national-security position 
is multifaceted. Key aspects include a well-funded, 



well-equipped and well-trained military; aware- 
ness and surveillance of rogue nations, terrorist 
groups and global threats to U.S. security around 
the world; support for the Department of Home- 
land Security and urging its steadfast protection of 
U.S. borders, ports and other points of access; a 
decent quality of life for troops and their families - 
active-duty and reserve-component alike - that 
includes reasonable compensation, benefits, health 
care, child care, and family-support programs; and 
an efficient and compassionate healing and 
transition program for wounded and ill warriors. 

The American Legion includes more than 
14,000 posts around the world and actively assists 
veterans and families of military personnel. They 
work closely on transitions back to civilian and 
community life, using the VA health-care system, 




The Legion in iraq_ 

ANMCGAF Post 383 in Old Town, Fla., chartered in 2004 
and named in honor of all five branches of the military, is 
becoming a home for the newest generation of Legionnaires. 
Post 383 Commander Chris Christians says his nephew - 
Sgt. 1st Class Curtis Christians, an Army paratrooper 
stationed near Baghdad - has recruited about 20 new 
American Legion members from the 2nd Battalion, 
69th Infantry unit. 

"I think it's a great idea to talk to these guys now and get 
them interested in the Legion," says Christians, a 23-year 
Marine Corps veteran who served two tours of duty in 
Vietnam. "People say to wait until they come home and then 
ask them to join. I say, why wait? Why not sign them up now if 
we can? They need to know what The American Legion can do 
for them and what we're doing elsewhere." 



20 THE AMERICAN LEGION MAGAZINE | SEPTEMBER 2008 



TRICARE or TRICARE for Life. The American 
Legion represents military members during the 
medical discharge process and assists in their 
pursuit of education benefits, employment counsel- 
ing, training, and health care. 

Also within the Legion's national-security pillar 
is a Foreign Relations Commission that works 
closely with the Department of State to seek 
peaceful solutions to various world conflicts and to 
advance U.S. foreign policy around the globe. 

The American Legion's national-security posi- 
tions include: 

A Strong National Defense. The American Legion 
recommends an increase in U.S. defense spending 
to levels that represent at least 5 percent of gross 
domestic product to include pay raises for military 
personnel that keep pace with cost-of-living 
increases and close the gap between military and 
private-sector pay. 

The Legion recommends that federal funding be 
provided to strengthen the Navy's ship-building 
program; to develop the Army's future combat 
systems; to build Air Force fighters, tankers and 
specialty aircraft; develop a national missile-de- 
fense system and cyberspace defense program; and 
to support NASA for dominance in space. The 
Legion urges DoD to use U.S. companies whenever 
possible for military procurement. 

Greater military force end strength, from 
1.4 million to 2.1 million, is recommended to 
reduce stress on the reserve components and 
National Guard, decrease the number of extended 
deployments, and better position the United States 
in the event of a sudden national-security threat 
outside the Iraq and Afghanistan war theaters. 

The American Legion also supports a new 
U.S. military command devoted solely to African 
issues - AFRICOM - shipboard or in fixed head- 
quarters on the continent. 

The Legion also continues its ongoing support 
for the Selective Service registration process. 

Military Quality of Life. Disabled military retirees 
earned and deserve full concurrent receipt of their 
DoD retirement pay and their VA disability com- 
pensation, which come from separate budgets, 
for separate purposes. Today, most disabled 
military retirees are forced to choose one or the 
other in what has become known as the "disabled 
veterans tax." 

Military health-care programs must be fully 
funded without additional enrollment fees or 
copayment increases for beneficiaries. TRICARE 




The American Legion 
and disaster readiness 

In many communities throughout the nation, 
The American Legion plays an active role in local 
homeland-security efforts. In the aftermath of the 
hurricanes and floods that devastated the Gulf Coast 
in 2005, and tornadoes that destroyed entire towns in 
the Midwest in 2008, American Legion posts became 
emergency shelters for families and even served as 
makeshift medical facilities. 

American Legion posts work closely with municipal 
leaders to develop emergency plans, kits and checklists 
in the event of natural disaster or attack. The American 
Legion is affiliated with Citizen Corps and hundreds of 
local disaster-readiness programs. 



coverage should be made permanent for members 
of the reserve components, as well. 

Military personnel who sustain injuries or 
illnesses while on duty must be given fair and 
timely discharge processing, and their transition 
to civilian life and/or VA health care made seam- 
less. The American Legion strongly supports a 
continuum of care for disabled veterans after they 
re-integrate to civilian life. The Legion encourages 
swift and efficient action to integrate various 
federal departments, agencies and programs to 
improve the transition process and sustain that 
continuum of care. 



SEPTEMBER 2008 | THE AMERICAN LEGION MAGAZINE 21 



Who We Are: The Four Pillars of The American Legion 



Homeland Security. The threat of terrorist attacks 
or other catastrophic disasters in the United States 
came painfully to light on Sept. 11, 2001, and 
following the devastating hurricane season of 
2005. The American Legion works closely with 
government at all levels to improve disaster 
readiness in local communities and, at the 
national level, to assure a well-funded and efficient 
Department of Homeland Security is prepared for 
any eventuality. 

Since the Department of Homeland Security's 
creation after the terrorist attacks of 2001, The 
American Legion has supported its intent, purpose 
and arrangement: to harmonize myriad agencies, 
offices, businesses, community groups and others 
with readiness responsibilities and quick-response 
capabilities. The American Legion is an active 
contributor to that synergy, on the local and 
national levels. The Legion concurs with the DHS 
mission to coordinate domestic security, including 
effective customs operations and drug interdiction. 

To help with that effort, the Legion supports 
funding for the U.S. Coast Guard's "Deepwater" 



The Legion's helping hand 

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita will forever be associated 
with tragedy. But amid the disastrous storm season that 
battered the Gulf Coast in 2005, the horrific weather also 
produced tale after tale of Legionnaires fulfilling the final 
clause of the preamble to the organization's constitution: 
"to consecrate and sanctify our comradeship by our 
devotion to mutual helpfulness." 

Post 250 in Fowl River, Ala., and Post 271 in Kaplan, La., 
were among numerous American Legion facilities 
across the storm-slammed region to serve as collection 
and distribution points for food, clothing and other aid 
to evacuees. 

Other posts, such as Dr. O.S. Holiday Memorial Post 27 in 
DeRidder, La., served as emergency shelters for evacuees. 
Commander Bill Lofton shut down the Post 27 bingo hall and 
welcomed 41 new residents displaced by the hurricanes. 
Legion volunteers cooked, fed and clothed their guests, 
even transporting diabetic patients to and from the local 
hospital for treatment. One post was converted into a 
makeshift kidney dialysis center. 

In addition to that support, more than $2.1 million in 
National Emergency Fund cash grants was awarded to more 
than 2,500 Legion families affected by the 2005 Gulf Coast 
hurricanes. 



initiatives to rebuild its fleet and modernize 
assets to more effectively fulfill responsibilities 
in maritime safety, law enforcement, home- 
land security, environmental protection 
and defense. 

Foreign Relations. The American Legion encour- 
ages increased federal funding for foreign relations 
and international affairs and for the Department of 
State's continuous effort to seek peaceful and 
diplomatic solutions to world conflicts, as well as 
the DoS initiative for creation of the Civilian 
Response Corps, for deployment before, during or 
after military campaigns. 

Full Accounting of POW/MIAs. A sacred value 
of The American Legion is the full accounting 
and repatriation of fallen U.S. service personnel. 
The Legion supports Joint POW/MIA Accounting 
Command activities to locate and repatriate 
all recoverable remains of U.S. military person- 
nel who have fallen or are missing in foreign 
battle zones. 




22 THE AMERICAN LEGION MAGAZINE | SEPTEMBER 2008 




Operation Landstuhl 

Past American Legion National Commander Paul A. Morin and other top 
officials in the Legion family toured Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in 
Germany last year and came away wanting "to make sure every patient 
had all the comfort items we could provide. I asked the Auxiliary and 
Sons of The American Legion if they would join me in raising $50,000." In 
just over a month, Operation Landstuhl raised $257,000, and $320,000 by 
the end of 2007. 

The donations bought TVs, phone cards, iPods, laptop computers, DVD 
players, billiard and ping-pong tables, Sony PlayStations, iTunes cards, 
clothing and books. All donated dollars went to patient items. 



Support for the troops 




The American Legion conducts 
thousands of troop-support activities 
every day across the United States. 
At small-town posts, Legionnaires 
and American Legion Auxiliary 
members prepare care packages and 
raise money for phone cards and even 
GPS navigation systems for troops to 
use in theater. In major cities, 
Legionnaires coordinate massive 
welcome-home and support 
celebrations. When members of the 
armed forces need support, or even 
simple acknowledgement of a job well 
done, The American Legion is there. 

Example: Thanks largely to The 
American Legion's Department of 
Oklahoma, last Christmas actually 
felt like Christmas for soldiers in the 
45th Infantry Brigade of the Oklahoma 
National Guard. They enjoyed 10 days 
at home in late December, thanks to 
the department's Operation Holiday 
Homecoming. Legionnaires there 
sponsored a massive effort that gave 
more than 2,000 mobilized soldiers a 
chance to enjoy the holidays with their 
families before returning to Fort Bliss, 



Texas, for final pre-deployment 
training before departing for the 
Middle East. 

More than 40 buses transported 
soldiers from Fort Bliss to Oklahoma 
City, Tulsa and McAlester. Soldiers 
enjoyed a week with their families 
and friends before finally returning 
to training Jan. 2. 

Gen. Myles Deering, who deployed 
with the brigade, offered a glowing 
review of the Oklahoma Legion's 
Operation Holiday Homecoming. 
"It's impossible to describe how much 
this meant to these men and women 
in uniform," he said. "The American 
Legion and the state of Oklahoma did 
a tremendous job." 



Example: Veterans at American 
Legion Post 351 in Fort Myers, Fla., 
partnered with others in the 
community to provide wounded 
soldiers from Fort Gordon a break from 
hospital life, including free lodging 
provided by the local Hampton Inn & 
Suites, free meals, fishing trips and a 
spa visit. The wounded troops were 
also recognized by the unfurling of a 
U.S. Flag large enough to extend across 
a six-lane highway. 
Example: In March 2007, Post 78 in 
Hyde Park, Mass., adopted an entire 
National Guard regiment. The 
Massachusetts National Guard's 
Headquarters and Headquarters 
Battery 1st Battalion, 101st Field Artillery 
Regiment deployed to Iraq in 2006. 
"I asked how many people were in the 
regiment," Post 78 Commander John 
Moran said. "I thought it would be 
great if we could take care of all 152 of 
these people." More than $7,500 was 
raised to purchase toiletries, DVDs, 
snacks and suntan lotion, along with 
various other comfort items. The post 
also helped organized a homecoming 
dinner and ceremony. "We call 
ourselves 'the little post that can,'" 
Moran said. "Small in numbers, but 
we're big enough to get things done." 




The Blue Star Service Banner was designed and patented in 
1917 by World War I Army Capt. Robert L Queissner of the 
5th Ohio Infantry. It quickly became an unofficial symbol to 
identify a home with a loved one at war. The American 
Legion resurrected the Blue Star Banner program after the 
terrorist attacks of 9/11, and American Legion posts donate 
them to families across the country. 



SEPTEMBER 2008 | THE AMERICAN LEGION MAGAZINE 23 



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Who We Are: The Four Pillars of The American Legion 



A LEGACY OF AMERICAN LEGION SERVICE 





TOP: Legionnaires have been at the 
bedsides of wounded and sick veterans 
since the end of World War I when 
disabled veterans were often institution- 
alized in asylums. The Legion helped 
create the Veterans Administration. 

BOTTOM: President Franklin D. Roosevelt 
signs the Servicemen's Readjustment 
Act of 1944, commonly regarded as 
the most significant piece of social 
legislation in the 20th century. 



The American Legion, today comprising 2.7 million 
wartime veterans, was chartered by the U.S. Congress 
in 1919, and was founded by men and women who 
served in the armed forces of the United States during 
World War I. 

Among the first to be exposed to modern warfare with 
its poisonous gases, overlaying fields of machine-gun fire, 
trench warfare, tanks and artillery, these soldiers, sailors 
and Marines suffered both the mental and physical 
wounds of war. 

When the armistice was announced on Nov. 11, 1918, 
they came home to parades, but little else. There was 
no comprehensive medical care, no disability compensa- 
tion, no vocational training, no effective treatment for 
shell shock, and no pensions for widows and orphans. 

The men and women who had won the Great War were 
expected to come home as if nothing had happened and to 
pick up where they had left off. They were expected to get 
on with their lives with little or no assistance from the 
government whose call they had answered. 

This fledging American Legion, conceived primarily by 
Theodore Roosevelt Jr., took on the mission to follow 
Lincoln's postbellum call for America to "care for him who 
shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his 
orphan." Working through a fast-multiplying network of 
community posts, The American Legion became the 
nation's largest self-help organization. The Legion estab- 
lished tuberculosis hospitals, found employment for 
veterans, established a program of monetary grants to 
assist widows and orphans, and assisted those suffering 
from the mental wounds of war. 

In 1923, The American Legion conducted a nationwide 
survey to ascertain how World War I veterans were 



26 THE AMERICAN LEGION MAGAZINE | SEPTEMBER 2008 



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Who We Are: The Four Pillars of The American Legion 



readjusting to civilian life. What the Legion survey 
revealed shocked the nation. 

Some veterans of the Great War were homeless, 
many suffered from what we know today as PTSD, 
and not a few were housed in jails, mental institu- 
tions and county homes. Too many had given up 
on life, and had no hope and no future. It was not 
uncommon to see former doughboys, without arms 
or legs, selling apples and pencils on the street 
corners of our nation, just trying to survive. 

The public outcry was loud and clear. The 
result was the creation of the Veterans Bureau, 
an entity that consolidated under one roof the 
services of many government agencies that 
had a small piece of the rehabilitation pie. 
Today, that bureau is known as the Department 
of Veterans Affairs. 

Federal and state laws were enacted, based on 
the Legion's advice that had been gathered from 
thousands of service officers who were working 
with veterans and their families - one on one - 
in the communities where they lived. 

Those laws brought compensation for veterans 
who had suffered service-connected disabilities. 
They built a nationwide system of veterans hospi- 
tals and clinics and established veterans homes, 
veterans cemeteries, and pensions for the surviv- 
ing spouses of those who had given their lives for 
our country. 

Thanks in no small part to the diligence and 
vision of The American Legion, shell shock has 
been re-diagnosed as post-traumatic stress disor- 
der, or PTSD; exposure to Agent Orange is now 
a recognized service-connected disability due to 
a study conducted by The American Legion and 
Columbia University; and veterans suffering from 
mesothelioma, cancer resulting from exposure to 
asbestos, and illness due to exposure to ionizing 
radiation, and its resulting cancers, are now 
recognized as having service-connected disabili- 
ties. This list is long and grows longer each year. 

Most, if not all, of these conditions were called 
to the attention of our government due to the 
Legion's work with veterans through its Veterans 
Affairs & Rehabilitation Commission. 

The American Legion's founders envisioned 
a future of honor, respect and prosperity for 
military veterans and the nation they vowed 
to protect and defend. That vision inspired the 
Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944, today 
known as the GI Bill. The American Legion is 
recognized as the organization that wrote and 
created the bill. Ironically, it passed the conference 
committee of the House and Senate by only one 




American Legion members today work closely with active 
military installations to provide support and stay connected. 



vote, and yet has come to be known as the 
greatest piece of social legislation ever con- 
ceived, triggering a half-century of American 
economic prosperity. 

The American Legion still believes in the vision 
of our founders, a vision for a strong America - 
freedom and opportunity. And The American 
Legion firmly believes that veterans and their 
families have earned every benefit awarded 
to them by a grateful nation because of their 
selfless service. Indeed, this basic principle was 
succinctly written into law when the Supreme 
Court stated in 1983: 

"It is ... not irrational for Congress to decide 
that, even though it will not subsidize substantial 
lobbying by charities generally, it will subsidize 
lobbying by veterans organizations. Veterans 
have 'been obliged to drop their own affairs and 
take up the burdens of the nation, subjecting 
themselves to the mental and physical hazards 
as well as the economic and family detriments 
which are peculiar to military service and which 
do not exist in normal civil life/ Our country has 
a longstanding policy of compensating veterans 
for their past contributions by providing them 
numerous advantages. This policy has 'always 
been deemed to be legitimate/" 

This special report in The American Legion 
Magazine was produced on behalf of our member- 
ship, the wartime veterans of the 20th and the 
21st century, who can be found in thousands of 
communities across our great nation. 

This is their vision for a strong America. 



28 THE AMERICAN LEGION MAGAZINE | SEPTEMBER 2008 



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Who We Are: The Four Pillars of The American Legion 



Pillar III: Americanism 




Many cultural, moral and patriotic values have 
come under serious attack in the United 
States in recent years. Prayer has been removed 
from schools. The U.S. Flag is no longer protected 
from anarchists. Boy Scouts of America faces 
serious legal duels in the communities it serves. 
The institution of marriage is under siege. Immi- 
gration laws are defied. References to God have 
been challenged on U.S. currency, in the Pledge of 
Allegiance and in the public square, all by a 
minority of voices whose vision for America is far 
different from that of our founding fathers. Our 
nation's very identity is at stake as more and more 
values are driven toward extinction. 

As an organization dedicated to God and coun- 
try, with a membership of military veterans that 
takes deep pride in the U.S. Flag and all it means, 
The American Legion has always been a stalwart 
champion of patriotism, morality and citizenship. 



Upon the pillar of Americanism is The American 
Legion's devotion to law and order, the raising of 
wholesome youth, respectful observance of 
patriotic holidays and remembrances, education 
and law-abiding citizenship. 

Among The American Legion's highest Ameri- 
canism priorities in the 2008 election year are: 

U.S. Flag Protection. The U.S. Constitution should 
be amended to add the following: "The Congress 
shall have power to prohibit the physical desecra- 
tion of the flag of the United States." 

The American Legion joins all the states and an 
overwhelming majority of citizens in its position 
that the American flag deserves legal protection 
from acts of intentional public physical desecra- 
tion. In 1989, the U.S. Supreme Court declared flag 
desecration to be a "right" protected by the First 
Amendment of the Constitution. The American 




American Legion baseball 



Many of the greatest names in 
the sport spent their teenage 
summers in American Legion Baseball 
uniforms. Hall of Famers such as Dave 
Winfield, Rollie Fingers, Reggie 
Jackson and Stan Musial still speak of 
the influence Legion ball had on their 
lives and careers. 

Each year, nearly 100,000 athletes 
participate in American Legion 
Baseball, the nation's oldest and 
most respected amateur baseball 
program. Posts sponsor teams in all 



50 states and Puerto Rico, 
giving young men wholesome, 
healthy activity and lessons in 
sportsmanship, loyalty, respect for 
rules and fair play. 

"I was proud to wear The 
American Legion uniform because 
it was the first uniform I had," 
remembered Stan 'The Man" 
Musial. "The American Legion has 
supported baseball for many years, 
and it has an outstanding program 
for our young players." 



30 THE AMERICAN LEGION MAGAZINE | SEPTEMBER 2008 



Legion disagreed then and reaffirms now that flag 
desecration is a form of conduct - not speech - 
that can and should be regulated by law. 

All 50 state legislatures have petitioned Con- 
gress for a constitutional amendment that would 
give power to Congress to prohibit such conduct. 
Poll after poll show that upwards of 80 percent 
of Americans support flag protection. Lopsided 
majorities in both houses of Congress have sup- 
ported a flag amendment, the House of Representa- 
tives having passed such a proposed amendment 
in six consecutive votes; the measure has fallen 
just slightly short of achieving super-majority 
in the Senate, leaving it just one vote short of 
passing in the 109th Congress. As a symbol of 
our nation, the U.S. Flag belongs to the people, 
who should be given the power to protect it. 
The American Legion's position on its protection 
is inviolate. 

Illegal Immigration. The American Legion sup- 
ports manageable, legal immigration. By multiple 
resolutions that determine policy, the Legion 
adamantly opposes illegal immigration, amnesty 
for those who illegally enter the United States and 
ineffective measures to prevent illegal border 
crossing, particularly during a time of war. 

The Legion's strategy to combat illegal immigra- 
tion calls for strong border security, including 
physical barriers and high-tech surveillance 
methods; the elimination of economic and social- 
services benefits for illegal immigrants; employer 
sanctions against those who knowingly hire illegal 
immigrants; and the enforcement of existing immi- 
gration laws. The Legion also supports new laws 
that deny illegal immigrants driver's licenses, 
establish parameters for non-criminal deportation, 
and designate English as the official language of 
the U.S. government. The Legion's position on 
illegal immigration seeks elimination of the visa 
lottery program, the creation of new visa catego- 
ries for agricultural workers to replace those who 
are working illegally, and authority to track foreign 
visitors to include college students, press, and 
members of any foreign diplomatic corps. 

Illegal immigration stands as one of the most 
serious problems facing America, with as many as 
20 million illegal immigrants inside our borders 
and billions of dollars spent providing social 
services, education and jobs for them. The Ameri- 
can Legion supports the law on this matter and 
strongly urges the U.S. government to enforce it. 



Voter Registration and Participation. The Ameri- 
can Legion connects good government with active 
citizen participation in the electoral process. 
Legion posts throughout the country offer their 
services and facilities to stimulate registration and 
turnout at the polls. Posts also provide facilities 
and opportunities for non-partisan voter-education 
forums and debates. Under the provisions of its 
federal charter, it is important to note, The Ameri- 
can Legion is prohibited from supporting, oppos- 
ing or providing aid to any political party or any 
candidate for public office. 

Boy Scouts of America. The American Legion 
vigorously opposes attempts to strip the Boy 
Scouts of public support, sponsorship and facility 
space due to the organization's membership or 
leadership criteria. The Scouts teach skills, build 
character, and provide a healthy and wholesome 
outlet for young Americans. The organization 
should not be punished or persecuted for acknowl- 
edging God in its oath or for setting leadership 
restrictions based on a moral code that the major- 
ity of Americans endorse. 

The Pledge of Allegiance. Recitation of the Pledge 
of Allegiance by students and teachers in our 
nation's schools should be a regular part of school 
activities and events. In support of keeping "under 
God" in the pledge, The American Legion affirms 
that pledging allegiance to the flag is the voluntary 
offering of a patriotic oath to the nation; that no 
one should be denied this opportunity; and that 
the removal of these words will set a precedent 
that questions the propriety of numerous refer- 
ences to a supreme being in historical documents, 
on currency and on many of our government 
buildings, to include the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Establishment-Clause Lawsuits. The American 
Legion is dedicated to combating the secular 
cleansing of our American heritage, performed 
by lawsuits that attack the Boy Scouts, the public 
display of the Ten Commandments and other 
symbols of America's religious history. The 
authority given by Congress to the courts to 
impose damages, or attorney fees, in establish- 
ment-clause cases is being used by the American 
Civil Liberties Union and others to compel munici- 
palities, state and federal agencies, along with 
private groups, to cast off religious association, 
often in pursuit of tax-funded attorney fees. 



SEPTEMBER 2008 | THE AMERICAN LEGION MAGAZINE 31 



Who We Are: The Four Pillars of The American Legion 





The American Legion legacy Run 

"My dad had an impact on my life that no one else could have on me. He was so many things to me; he was my support, my guide, my confidant 
and my comfort. Losing him was the worst thing that I have ever had happen in my life. I would like to honor him and would like to make him 
and my family proud by achieving my goals. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to make this happen." 



The words of a college student whose military father 
lost his life after the tragic terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, 
demonstrate just how important it is to live up to one of 
The American Legion's - and our nation's - most 
important obligations. 

Within weeks of the attacks, The American Legion Legacy 
Scholarship was established to help young people whose 
parents have lost their lives serving in the amed forces in 
the years following 9/11. Children of U.S. military personnel 
killed at war are entitled to receive federal money toward 
their college educations, but these funds do not cover the 
entire cost, and the gap widens as college tuitions and 
expenses continue to climb. It is especially difficult for a 
single parent to afford. 

The goal of The American Legion Legacy Scholarship fund 
is $20 million, enough to fund college educations for young 
people years from now, through earnings on the principal. 



To reach that goal, The American Legion relies heavily on 
one of its most popular and fast-growing programs: The 
American Legion Riders. 

Motorcycle-riding veterans from across the country 
have joined the Legion Riders for annual cross-country 
treks, raising funds while riding from Indianapolis to 
national conventions in Salt Lake City, Reno, Nev., 
and Phoenix. The rides have raised more than $1 million 
for the scholarship program, which is already distribut- 
ing scholarship dollars while simultaneously building 
up the principal. 

Legion Riders chapters have flourished in recent years 
and became an official program of the organization in 2007. 
It has since expanded to more than 800 chapters. 

www.legion.org/programs/legacyrun/overview 
www.americanlegionriders.net 




AMERICAN LEGION BOYS NATION 



Presidents, governors, members 
of Congress and local community 
servants are among thousands of 
young men who learned the way 
the U.S. government works by 
participating in American Legion 
Boys Nation. 

Boys Nation participants are 
selected from Boys State programs 
across the country. Each delegate 
represents his state as a senator. 
An intense week of training and 
education in the legislative 



process also includes tours of 
Washington monuments and 
memorials, along with an occasional 
visit from the president. 

Boys Nation began in 1946 at 
American University in Washington. 
Boys State began in 1935 in Illinois 
as an effort to counter fascist 
youth camps springing up around 
the country at the time. At Boys State, 
high-school juniors learn the rights, 
privileges and responsibilities of a 
franchised citizen. 



32 THE AMERICAN LEGION MAGAZINE | SEPTEMBER 2008 




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Who We Are: The Four Pillars of The American Legion 



Temporary Financial Assistance 

Michael Junkins shipped out to Iraq on the USS Bulkeley in 
February 2004, leaving his wife Sabrina and their 4-year-old 
daughter Cassie behind in Virginia. 

Three days later, the Junkins' furnace broke down during 
one of the state's coldest winters. A replacement would cost 
the family $8,000. Sabrina pulled together most of the 
money, but not all. The answer to the family's crisis came in 
the form of The American Legion's Temporary Financial 
Assistance program, which helps military and veteran 
families with minor children at home. 



Jerry Howard, the Department of Virginia's Children & 
Youth chairman, was able to secure $2,300 through TFA to 
cover the remaining cost. 

Through TFA, a local American Legion post can call upon 
the national organization for cash assistance to help meet 
basic needs of veterans' children. 

Funding for TFA comes through The American Legion 
Endowment Fund. In 2007, nearly 1,200 children were helped 
by the fund, amounting to more than $562,100 in 
disbursements from National Headquarters. 



^^^^ 




Family Support Network 



The American Legion's Family 
Support Network is ready to provide 
immediate assistance to U.S. military 
personnel and their families whose 
lives have been directly affected by 
the war on terrorism. 

As National Guardsmen and reserve 
units are mobilized in record 
numbers, the families of these men 
and women often find themselves 
unable to meet normal monthly 
expenses and needing assistance for 
a variety of everyday chores like 
grocery shopping, child care, mowing 
the grass, fixing the car and other 
routine household jobs. 

To address these issues, The 
American Legion has a nationwide 
toll-free telephone number for 



servicemembers and their families to 
call for assistance. Requests also can 
be made online. All inquiries are 
referred to The American Legion 
department in which the call 
originated. Departments relay the 
collected information to a local 
American Legion post. The local 
post then contacts the military 
servicemember or family to see how 
assistance can be provided locally. 
Since the creation of the Family 
Support Network during the Gulf War, 
thousands of American Legion posts 
have responded to meet these 
families' needs. 

Posts are reminded that families in 
financial need with minor children are 
encouraged to call on the Temporary 




Financial Assistance program at 
National Headquarters to assist. 
Otherwise, it is up to local posts to 
provide or develop the resources 
necessary to meet the need. 

More than 2,200 requests through 
the Family Support Network came 
to National Headquarters in 2007. 
Most cases are handled locally 
without notification or involvement 
from the national organization. 
Creating an ongoing and active 
relationship with local military units 
allows posts to respond immediately 
when needs arise. 

www. legion.org/fsn 

familysupport@legion.org 

(800)504-4098 



34 THE AMERICAN LEGION MAGAZINE | SEPTEMBER 2008 



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Who We Are: The Four Pillars of The American Legion 




Pillar IV: Children & Youth 




The American Legion's Commission on Chil- 
dren & Youth manages a pillar of service 
guided by three main objectives: to strengthen the 
family unit; to support quality organizations that 
provide services for children and youth; and to 
provide communities with well-rounded programs 
that meet the physical, educational, emotional 
and spiritual needs of young people. The commis- 
sion works to provide hope for children who 
face health, safety, discipline or home-life chal- 
lenges and provides opportunities for young 
people to succeed. 

The American Legion Child Welfare Foundation 
provides more than $500,000 in grants to nonprofit 
organizations each year that work to improve the 



The Samsung Scholarship 

After researching dozens of veterans 
organizations, Samsung Group, a worldwide 
leader in electronics, chose The American 
Legion in 1995 to administer an endowed 
scholarship fund of $5 million. The endowment 
was established to show appreciation to 
U.S. veterans who came to the aid of Korea during 
its struggle against communist forces during the 
Korean War. The scholarship is for undergraduate 
study only and may be used for tuition, books, 
fees, and room and board. 

Seven to 10 students are chosen each year 
for the $20,000 scholarships, which are awarded 
to direct descendants of U.S. wartime veterans. 



lives of young people. These grants have aided 
organ-donor campaigns, supported efforts to help 
military children cope with deployment or loss of a 
parent, and funded projects that increased public 
awareness of Huntington's Disease, autism, Reyes 
Syndrome, meningitis, spina bifida, diabetes, 
cancer and other conditions. 

The Commission on Children & Youth has 
focused recent attention on several important 
national programs, including the Children's 
Miracle Network, Ronald McDonald House 
Charities, Special Olympics, youth suicide 
prevention, Halloween safety, Family Support 
Network and Temporary Financial Assistance 
for families of the deployed, and Operation: 
Military Kids, among others. 

The American Legion has been a staunch 
supporter for the children and youth of our 
nation since its founding in 1919. The commit- 
ment continues today for the National Commission 
on Children & Youth, as it seeks to improve the 
well-being of all children. The key to the future 
of a free and prosperous country, knows every 
generation of veterans, is held by the children 
and youth of today. The Legion strongly supports 
traditional family values, assistance for at-risk 
children and activities that promote their healthy 
and wholesome development. While there is 
no way of knowing what issues will face our 
youth tomorrow, our survival may well depend 
on the quality of care, education and training that 
we, as parents and citizens, provide for young 
people today. 

The American Legion's Children & Youth pillar 
includes positions on: 



36 THE AMERICAN LEGION MAGAZINE | SEPTEMBER 2008 




Child Pornography. The Legion opposes 
any attempts to weaken U.S. laws governing 
production, sale and distribution of 
pornographic materials. 

Catastrophic Illness. The American Legion 
supports enacting legislation to financially 
assist families facing catastrophic illness of 
a child. 

Intellectual Disabilities. The American 
Legion supports continuing research, and early 
intervention efforts, to prevent intellectual 
disabilities, to include research on the 
development and function of the nervous system, 
fetal treatments and gene therapy to correct 
abnormalities produced by defective genes, and 
early intervention programs with high-risk infants 
and children. 

Immunization for Needy Children. The Legion 
urges federal funding for state and local health 
agencies to ensure that indigent children are 
afforded the opportunity to receive needed vac- 
cines and treatments. 

Family Integrity. The Legion promotes the fam- 
ily as the cornerstone of society and supports Na- 
tional Family Week in November. The Legion 
further recognizes that the natural family is the 
fundamental unit, inscribed in human nature and 
centered on the voluntary union of a man and 
woman in a lifelong covenant of marriage. 

Media Violence. The American Legion supports 
appropriate state and federal legislation to 
restrict the excessive use of violence, vulgarity 
and immoral expressions in movies, televi- 
sion programs, news, video games and 
the Internet. 

Drug Abuse. The American Legion fully supports 
adequate funding for all border, state, federal and 
military drug-trafficking prevention programs to 
keep illegal substances from reaching our nation's 
young people. 

Child Sexual Exploitation. The American 
Legion supports appropriate legislation aimed 
at the prevention, investigation and prosecution 
of child sexual exploitation and seeks to empow- 
er the public to take immediate and direct 
action to enforce a zero-tolerance policy 
on the problem. 



Child Welfare Foundation 

Not all American children grow up with the same 
opportunities. Some face physical disabilities, parenting 
problems and even homelessness. For thousands, each 
day is a challenge marked by pain, prayer and 
perseverance. Many require specialized care. That is why 
The American Legion Child Welfare Foundation exists. 

Established in 1954, the foundation was developed to 
collect donations from individuals who wished to 
contribute to the betterment of children in this country. 
To date, more than $9 million has been awarded to 
organizations to support worthwhile projects through 
the dissemination of information to the general public 
and specific target groups. 

In 2007, the foundation awarded grants totaling 
$530,700 to 18 nonprofit organizations. Included among 
those grants was $64,000 for The American Legion 
Children's Home at Ponca City, Okla., for the home's 
"American Legion Children's Home National Awareness 
Initiative." This grant went toward producing DVDs, 
brochures and a Web site in support of a national 
campaign to raise awareness and funds for the children's 
home. Other 2007 grants went to such groups as the 
National Autism Center, the Childhood Leukemia 
Foundation and Our Military Kids, Inc. 

www.legion.org/cwf/ 



SEPTEMBER 2008 | THE AMERICAN LEGION MAGAZINE yj 



Who We Are: The Four Pillars of The American Legion 



It s Who We Are 



When Grand Dad used to say "Grandma, 
I'm headed to the Legion Hall" 

I thought the Legion Hall was just some 
place he went 

to have a beer and play some cards with all his 
buddies at the bar 

But I didn't know what being in the Legion meant ... 

to him and all his friends 

until I stood by Grand Dad's grave 

said my "gone for good goodbye" ... 

I swore I wouldn't cry 

But one by one nearly two hundred men stepped up, 
saluted him and then 

they stood there at attention 'til everyone 
was through 

I stopped one just to ask him "Sir, is that what 
you always do?" He said ... 

It's not just something that we do ... It's who we are 

We proudly wore the uniform and we 
still do our part 

Because our love for country lives not just on our lips 
but deep in our hearts ... 

It's not just something that we do ... It's who we are 



Just before he turned to leave 

He shook my hand, I grabbed his sleeve and said, 

"I wish there were a lot more folks like you" 

He smiled at me and said, "There are, but unless 
you look real hard 

chances are you'll seldom see us on the news" 

"But all across the nation there are those great 
patriots in civilian clothes 

who've paid a price for freedom because we still 
believe 

the freedom our forefathers left isn't an entitlement 

but it's our sacred duty to protect and serve 
this land 

I said, "I wish I could do something" 

He said, "Son, we're all Americans and ... 

It's not just something that we do ... It's who we are 

We don't have to be in uniform to do our part 

When our love for country lives not just on our lips 

but deep in our hearts ... 

It's not just something that we do ... It's who we are 
From old brown shoes to desert boots 
The future counts on me and you and 
Who we are 



Country music star Michael Peterson wrote "It's Who We Are" in honor of The American Legion. 
The song appears on the DVD of the same name available for purchase for $12. 
Proceeds from sales are used to help fund The American Legion Legacy Scholarship fund. 

h ttps://join. legion.org/peterson/ 




38 



THE AMERICAN LEGION MAGAZINE | SEPTEMBER 2008 



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Masters of Disasters 

Since 9/11, thousands of emergency responders have flocked to the curious 
mock town of Disaster City to train for terrorist attacks and natural disasters. 



BY SUE RUSSELL 

Billy Parker gazes at the wreckage and devasta- 
tion. An underground explosion has "pan- 
caked" a multi-story government building into a 
veritable concrete layer cake. Cars are crumpled 
like soda cans between gigantic concrete slabs, 
once separate floors of the 
building. A crushed brown 
Pontiac's bumper sticker 
aptly states, Td rather be 
camping." Surveying the 
destruction, Parker, a former 
firefighter and paramedic, is 
inscrutable. 

This is Disaster City, where 
he works. A 52-acre mock 
town in College Station, 
Texas, it is a sprawling, 
purpose-built, search-and- 
rescue training facility with 
concrete rubble piles and an 
impressive array of life-sized, 
collapsible structures that 
include a cinema and strip 
mall. Inside the shell of an 
office complex, an eerie 
labyrinth of debris-ridden 
hallways leads to a space 
where upturned metal desks 
are strewn like children's 
playthings. Outside, derailed 
and mangled train carriag- 
es - donated by Amtrak in 

return for training - are rigged to simulate hazard- 
ous liquid spills by leaking water. 

Disaster City is operated by the Texas Engineer- 
ing Extension Service (TEEX) and Texas A&M 
University. Here, experts such as Parker provide 
emergency responders with cutting-edge training 
in homeland security and natural-disaster re- 
sponse by creating complex, catastrophic scenarios 
for incredibly lifelike search-and-rescue drills. 




A TEEX crewman breaches a reinforced concrete 
floor using a hydraulic jackhammer in Disaster 
City's collapsed parking structure. Martial Voitier 



For a respected urban search-and-rescue guru, 
internationally known in his field, Parker is 
incredibly unassuming. A 28-year veteran of TEEX, 
he is also Disaster City's Urban Search & Rescue 
program director. On this particular day, he is 

working a practice exercise 
with a five-person squad 
from the elite, 450-strong 
Texas Task Force 1 (TX-TF1), 
one of only 28 federally 
sponsored, national response 
teams in the country. 

After 9/11, Parker was one 
of 74 TX-TF1 members 
deployed to Ground Zero. 
After 2005's devastating 
hurricane season, he led 
41 water strike team mem- 
bers into New Orleans, 
directing the rescue of about 
13,000 victims. They plucked 
people from rooftops, apart- 
ment buildings and nursing 
homes. They also helped 
147 patients leave University 
Hospital, many with chest 
and trachea tubes attached. 

Today's mock scenario: a 
terrorist's bomb has col- 
lapsed a government building 
and parking garage, trapping 
people and cars. In a real 
attack, emergency responders would have no clue 
if they were dealing with terrorism or some other 
catastrophe. The squad is told only that there has 
been an explosion. Either way, the response 
strategies are remarkably similar. 

They are in Building 133, which embodies 
simulations of four historic disasters. The col- 
lapsed concrete floors were modeled on the World 
Trade Center's underground parking garage after 



40 THE AMERICAN LEGION MAGAZINE | SEPTEMBER 2008 



Urban search-and-rescue workers hoist an injured "victim" through an opening in the floor above them 
at Building 133. Searching for survivors works best when it's done "from the bottom Up ." Martial Voitier 



Islamic terrorists bombed it in 1993. Two damaged, 
circular concrete columns replicate 9/11 damage at 
the Pentagon. A steep, concrete ravine between 
two connected floors mirrors Mexico City's mas- 
sive 1985 earthquake that separated outside walls 
from buildings. 

Lastly, a 100-square-foot hanging concrete slab 
replicates part of the Alfred R. Murrah building's 
roof that dangled precariously after the Oklahoma 
City bombing in 1995. While it didn't fall, it 
suggested a good training opportunity to Urban 
Search & Rescue Division Director Bob McKee. He, 
Parker and their colleagues then devised solutions. 
In one training scenario, rescuers rappel down it, 
drill it, and eventually tie it back with steel cables. 

In this exercise, the squad is focused on Build- 
ing 133's collapsed concrete floors. They start with 
general reconnaissance and take readings to check 
for toxic spills, noxious fumes or dangerous 
chemicals. Once the air tests clear, work can 
begin, but pockets of danger can form in con- 
fined spaces, so they will test repeatedly. Parker, 
squad leader Brett Dixon and a couple of rescue 
specialists ease their frames into a shallow space 
between two enormous slabs of concrete edged 
with jagged rebar. 



They must shore up the solid concrete above 
them, then "breach and break," as they call it, to 
search for victims. Since drilling already-compro- 
mised concrete can trigger a further collapse, or 
endanger an unseen victim above, they move 
slowly and meticulously. Parker warns everyone to 
stay vigilant for any new fractures or ominous 
sounds from the building. 

Searches are safest when worked from the 
bottom up. "Typically, we like to shore our way in 
for protection," Parker explains. Here, aluminum 
hydraulic shoring is put in place to stabilize the 
concrete. They then drill a tiny inspection hole, 
through which they can snake up the probe of 
an atmospheric monitor to check for combustible 
vapors and high concentrations of carbon monox- 
ide. All clear. 

The team inserts a specialized camera through 
the inspection hole to do a 360-degree sweep 
above. They visually assess the structural damage 
and spot one conscious but injured victim. The 
search team will have to go in. Reassured that 
no one is directly above the drill spot, they move 
faster to enlarge the hole. 

Lying on his back, Dixon braces his feet on the 
concrete above to help him support a 45 -pound 



SEPTEMBER 2008 | THE AMERICAN LEGION MAGAZINE 41 



jackhammer, and drills upward. An oxygen/ 
acetylene torch burns out the rebar, which falls 
away like broken jail bars. Entering the floor 
above, the team shores again for safety. Then, with 
the rescue route finally clear, the victim is re- 
moved and the exercise is completed. 

Volunteer victims, recruited from the university 
and community, can lie for hours awaiting rescue 
by humans or dogs. Concrete rubble piles must be 
regularly restructured to outsmart the canines who 
quickly memorize the positions of "hides," the tiny 
crawl spaces where victims wait silently for their 
scents to be picked up. It can be stifling. Once, a 
TEEX member playing a volunteer victim dozed off 
and started snoring. It's the only time anyone can 
remember Billy Parker getting mad. 

Parker, a Texan in his mid-50s, exudes a quiet, 
inner confidence. He's built it up over time. He 
started by working weather disasters such as 
tornadoes. In 1999, tragedy hit close to home when 
a bonfire built by Texas A&M students collapsed, 



killing 12. Yet Parker isn't haunted by all he's seen. 
He calls himself "the ultimate optimist." 

A devoted husband and father, he's also a man of 
strong faith, and immediately after he got his first 
fire and paramedic certifications, he knew he'd 
found his calling. "Obviously, God's been very 
good to me, because there are very few people in 
this world who have been to the incidents I've 
been to, and lived to share the stories with others," 
he says. 

Calm and responsible, Parker admits being an 
adrenaline junkie. "I like the big incidents, being 
in the big game at the center of the action. When I 
was a firefighter/paramedic, I wanted to be in the 
busiest station, running the most calls, going to 
the most fires." 

In the thick of a crisis, Parker finds it helpful to 
stay emotionally detached. "I stay pretty focused 
on what I call 'in the zone' on an adrenaline high," 
he says. "It's afterwards that I really feel the 
emotions of what took place. Katrina was a bad 



Robot Grand Prix 




AirRobot, which took 
part in the 2007 search 
robot evaluation at 
Disaster City, provides 
responders with a 
unique vantage in 
disaster situations. 



In November, an army of robots and their nimble-fingered handlers 
will visit Disaster City for the fourth Department of Homeland Security 
and National Institutes of Standards & Technology robot evaluation 

exercise. Emergency responders dream up 
tests to gauge the robots' usefulness in 
disaster response. In the exercise, robots 
must navigate wreckage, obstacle courses 
and mazes. They must climb walls, stairs and 
debris piles, and exhibit qualities such as 
dexterity, mobility, speed and endurance. 

Last year, the robots' visual acuity was 
tested with a low-tech eye chart, just like 
those used by optometrists. One robot 
actually hauled an injured dummy out of 
harm's way. Battery life remains the real 
challenge. The crowd-pleaser in 2007 was 
the AirRobot, a 2.2-pound wire aircraft that looks something like a flying 
saucer, three feet across, that takes off vertically. It can fly up to 25 mph, 
reach heights up to 3,000 feet, and has a range 
of about 1,600 feet. 

"I liked its effortless, nearly silent hover," says 
TEEX's Martial Voitier. "It's GPS-controlled, so it 
can hold position on breezy days, and will 
return to its position if it is pushed or bumped. 
It has a good wireless camera and is a very neat 
robot." 

The cobra-like Active Scope Camera weighs 
only 10 pounds, is more than 25 feet long, and advances into crevices at 
two inches per second while transmitting images. 

Also popular: the Eyeball R1 (aka "throwbot"), a 1.25-pound sphere 
that's easy to roll into inaccessible places. 




A simulated 
building collapse 
acts as a test for the 
Negotiator Tactical 
Surveillance Robot. 



42 THE AMERICAN LEGION MAGAZINE | SEPTEMBER 2008 



situation, but we helped 13,000 people and I feel 
very satisfied with that." 

Deployed to 2003's space shuttle Columbia 
recovery mission, Parker was gratified when 
their small response team found remains from all 
seven astronauts in just nine 
days. "The rewards aren't 
always finding somebody 
alive," he says. "Sometimes 
it's giving family members 
the opportunity to say 
goodbye to loved ones." 

Training Globally. The 

expertise of Parker, McKee, 
Dixon and their roster of 
top-notch colleagues help 
police, SWAT teams, firefight- 
ers, military, medical staff 
and other groups learn to 
manage crises at Disaster 
City. They come from all over 
the United States, the United 
Kingdom, Canada, Australia, 
Taiwan and Japan. Some 
responders have specific 
interests. "We will custom- 
tailor a training scenario and 
emergency plan accordingly," 
McKee says. 

Brian Locke, director of 
Operational Preparedness & 
Resilience at the U.K.'s 
Merseyside Fire & Rescue 
Service is a six-time visitor to 
Disaster City. "Terrorism is 
a threat that hangs over 
everybody these days," he 
says. He wanted his staff to 

experience Disaster City and to learn from instruc- 
tors "who can talk from experience of having 
done it in a real-life scenario. We didn't find 
anything like that anywhere else in the world. 
It's incredible." 

Another repeat visitor is Brian Giachino, opera- 
tions chief of the Iowa Task Force, one of 33 state 
and regional search-and-rescue teams. The cli- 
max of each course is a final, full-blown, real-time 
exercise, after which participants are given feed- 
back on their performances. It's the complex, 
final Operation Readiness exercise that really 
sold Giachino. 

"Wow, is that valuable," Giachino says. "Nor- 
mally, you train and come home, and have to set 



up your own exercise and don't have resources." 
Disaster City inspired Giachino to acquire more 
sophisticated communication systems at home, 
along with more search-and-rescue canines. 
"Although there's some very sophisticated acoustic 

and seismic 
Y^AjAL ^ equipment, it's 

just so time-inten- 
sive to canvass an 
area," he says. 
"The canines are 
not supremely 
reliable, but if 
they're on their 
game and scent 
travel is good that 
day, they can go 
toe to toe with the 
electronic 
equipment." 

It's not all about 
debris and rubble 
at Disaster City. 
Administrators 
and supervisors 
come to hone their 
incident manage- 
ment, resource 
coordination and 
information-man- 
agement skills. 
The state-of-the- 
art Emergency 
Operations 
Training Center 
(EOTC) is a 
14,000-square-foot 
incident command 
post that McKee 
proudly calls "eye candy at its best." From this 
logistics and planning hub, operations staff can 
control scenarios happening outside. 

EOTC director and Army retiree David Nott also 
emphasizes situation awareness and decision-mak- 
ing. What is the top decision-making blunder? 
"Not making a decision, however small or big, at 
the appropriate time," he says. 

Nott's students also participate in a final, highly 
orchestrated incident-command training exercise 
that plays out in real time, and in sequence. 
Sometimes, the intensity and realism proves 
overwhelming. "I've actually had people have 
to go step outside just to make sure the world 
was OK," Nott says. 




Demise Corliss and her canine, Bretagne, search Disaster City's 
wooden rubble pile, which simulates a large, collapsed, 

wood-framed structure. Martial Voitier 



SEPTEMBER 2008 | THE AMERICAN LEGION MAGAZINE 43 




A victim's-eye view of a 
rescue from the 
wooden rubble pile 
during a hurricane 
simulation at Disaster 
City. Two concepts are 
emphasized during 
training: situational 
awareness and 
decision-making. 
Realistic training 
scenarios, sometimes 
overwhelming in their 
intensity offer plenty 
of opportunities for 
decisive action under 

preSSUre. Martial Voitier 



A special bond exists among those who work or 
volunteer to perform dangerous search-and-rescue 
missions. "It's a family within a family/' Parker 
says. "It's a job, but it's not really a job. We're not 
kin by blood, but we're kin by incidents, by our 
common beliefs, and by our common goals in life 
to help our fellow man." 

Learning from the Past. Everything changed in 
the search-and-rescue world after 9/11; simply put, 
funding for exercises flowed. TEEX now has a 
$6.2-million equipment cache, ready to go in 
pre-packed kits tailored to different deployment 
sizes. To be totally self-sufficient, teams 
carry generators, fuel, medicines, 
cardiac monitors, hazardous material 
gear, gas-detection tubes and more. 

Because disasters are chaotic and 
dynamic affairs, communication is 
critical. The 9/11 attacks and Hurricane 
Katrina exposed the need for overhaul 
in that area, and things have improved. 
"We're all talking the same language," 
Parker observes. As for McKee, he's 
most excited by wireless technologies 
and advances in personal tracking and 
locator devices. 

Since 9/11, many rescue teams have 
invested in radiation monitors and 
personal protective equipment. Many 
firefighters and EMS workers have gas 
and chemical detectors, and firefighters 
are also likely to have previously 
unaffordable construction tools. Robots? 
Not so much. Why buy a robot that may 



be used once a decade, when you could buy a 
few badly needed $10,000 boats for the inevita- 
ble flood? 

Parker makes the point that no amount of 
equipment can substitute for preparation "to 
manage a disaster, mitigate it and respond to it. 
But the emergency-response community communi- 
cates better now and is constantly training. I think 
we've built scenarios to better prepare it to deal 
with just about anything we could conceivably 
think of." Q 

Sue Russell is a writer living in California. 



Just as America changed forever after 9/7 7, so did the field of search-and- 
rescue. Teams now carry more equipment, including generators, cardiac 
monitors, hazardous material gear and gas-detection tubes. Martial Voitier 



44 THE AMERICAN LEGION MAGAZINE | SEPTEMBER 2008 



©2008 Media Services S-801 8 OF201 65R-1 Advertisement 



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A Promise Fulfilled 

U.S. Rep. Chet Edwards lives up to the legacy 
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Texas Democrat Chet Edwards never served in the U.S. 
military, but his 18 years in Congress have been shaped by 
those who did. 

Until his district map was redrawn in 2003, Edwards counted 
among his constituents the massive Fort Hood Army commu- 
nity, and a strong population of military retirees and veterans 
who make central Texas their home. Locally, he no longer has 
Fort Hood, but he does represent Commander in Chief George 
W. Bush's hometown of Crawford, and has fought diligently to 
keep the Waco VA Medical Center from closing. Nationally, he's 
made an even bigger impact on the lives of veterans. 

Rep. Edwards received The American Legion's 2008 
Distinguished Public Service Award after shepherding the 
largest one-year funding increase in the history of VA - 
$11.8 billion - while serving on the powerful House 
Appropriations Committee. "Chet went above and beyond in 
keeping us informed and telling the truth," American Legion 
National Commander Marty Conatser said when presenting 
the award in early April. 

"To be a politician accused of telling the truth - what a 
special thing," Edwards quipped in response. 

The award, he said, "was an honor I will always cherish. 
I know the real heroes are our nation's veterans. I am sim- 
ply fighting to provide the funding and services that our veter- 
ans have already earned through their service and sacrifice 
to our country." 

Edwards told Legionnaires gathered at the 48th Washington 
Conference that his efforts to raise the bar on VA health-care 
funding are not a one-time shot. "In the new Congress, with 
your partnership, it will be a new day for America's veterans. 
We know there is so much more that needs to be done." 

Edwards recently spoke with The American Legion Magazine. 



The federal funding mill 





STEP 1: Actuaries project 
VA's health-care demands 
for the next fiscal year, and 
Veterans Integrated 
Service Network (VISN) 
directors across the 
country provide their 
projections. VA delivers 
that information to the 
Office of Management and 
Budget (OMB), which may 
or may not agree. 



STEP 2: The Office of Management and 
Budget puts a dollar figure on the need. 
That's the president's request. 

STEP 3: OMB and VA take a 
recommendation to Congress. 

STEP 4: Veterans service organizations 
weigh in with their recommendations. 
The American Legion makes its case 
during the national commander's 
testimony in September. 



STEP 5: The House passes a budget 
resolution, which may be - and usually is - an 
altogether different amount from what the 
White House recommended. The Senate passes 
a budget resolution. This merely gives 
congressional authorization for spending, but it 
does not guarantee money. 

Budget resolutions typically pass Congress in 
late spring or early summer. In past congresses, 
the budget resolution level for VA and the VA 
appropriations bill level have not often 
matched. That changed last year. 



46 THE AMERICAN LEGION MAGAZINE | SEPTEMBER 2008 



Q: Your relationship with veterans runs deep. 
What's the source of that? 

A: My political mentor was Olin E. "Tiger" league, 
who earned two Silver Stars and three Bronze 
Stars in World War II, fighting in Europe. He 
chaired the VA committee for over a decade, and 
was known as "Mr. Veteran" in Congress. When he 
first approached me to run for office in 1978, he 
asked me to make one promise to him. He asked 
me to never forget veterans if I got elected. I don't 
make a lot of promises, but that's one commitment 
I intend to keep. 

My father was a naval aviator in World War II, 
and having represented Fort Hood for 14 years in 
Congress, including the first war in Iraq, I have 
seen up close and firsthand the incredible sacri- 
fices made by our servicemen and women, and 
their families. Those are reasons why I am so 
passionate about honoring and respecting those 
who have served our country in uniform. 

Q: The Waco VA Medical Center in your district was 
pegged for closure. Now it's off the chopping block. 
What happened? 

A: The CARES (Capital Asset Realignment for 
Enhanced Services) recommendation to close the 
Waco VA was based on faulty data that did not take 
into account, among other things, the need for 
medical care for our returning Iraq and Afghani- 
stan war veterans. I felt it would have been a moral 
outrage to close the Waco VA hospital during a 
time of war, when Fort Hood, with two divisions 
serving continuously in Iraq, was so close by. 

One other point: the Waco VA has long been a 
Center of Excellence for PTSD. It has one of the few 
in-house long-term PTSD programs in the country, 
and it's a very respected one. CARES got it wrong. 
This was an example of democracy working. The 
local veterans led the fight. Sen. (Kay Bailey) 



Hutchison and I joined with them. It was a great 
victory for veterans. Now, the Waco VA is not just a 
key resource for Texas veterans. It is a key resource 
for blind rehab and PTSD all over the country. 

Q: Veterans in many areas still await hospitals 
recommended for construction under CARES. Isn't 
that an example of the gap between budget promises 
and real federal funding? 

A: The congressional budgeting process is confus- 
ing to most people. It's a three-step process. First, 
we have a budget resolution that sets out broad 
parameters of the federal budget. Then, the 
appropriations committee divides up the pie and 
says how much we get for the VA and Military 
Construction Committee vs. the other subcommit- 
tees. That's a critical part of the process that goes 
largely unnoticed. Then, finally, on my subcom- 
mittee, we go to work deciding exactly how those 
dollars are spent. The battle is won or lost at the 
budget committee level and the allocation level. 

Just because a project is authorized does not 
mean it's funded. There are projects authorized for 
decades that were never funded. Appropriations is 
where the rubber meets the road. When I came in 
as chairman in January 2007, my frustration was 
that veterans health care and benefits programs 
had been on a treadmill for the past decade. While 
there were increases in the budget, they seldom 
kept up with inflation and population growth. 
That is why I am so excited that we passed - 
in just 12 months - an $11.8 billion increase. 

Q: In 2005, The American Legion and many mem- 
bers of Congress identified a looming shortfall in the 
VA budget. When it hit and emergency funding was 
needed, the problem was connected to unanticipated 
demand from Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. How 
do you prevent that from happening again? 



STEP 6: Using the budget resolution-authorized level as a guide, 
the Subcommittee for VA and Military Construction begins hearings 
that run through the spring. It assesses needs and justifies costs. 

All the House appropriations subcommittees mark up their bills. 
Each appropriations bill then passes through the full appropriations 
committee, and is ultimately sent to the floor and voted on in the 
House, usually by July. The Senate typically follows a later schedule for 
its appropriations bills. Once the Senate version is completed and 
passed, House and Senate conference committee members are 
appointed to meet and iron out any differences. The conference 
committee reports a final agreement that is then passed in both 
chambers before it is sent to the president. 



STEP 7: The appropriations act is 
signed into law or vetoed. 

STEP 8: Funding is allocated to 
VISNs - administrative VA regions 
that may include multiple states 
and parts of neighboring states. 



SEPTEMBER 2008 | THE AMERICAN LEGION MAGAZINE 47 



A: First, we adequately fund the VA health-care 
system. That $11.8-billion increase - about 95 per- 
cent of that goes to the VA health-care system. 
That's the first key step. The second is that I added 
report language to the VA appropriations bill two 
years ago to require VA to report detailed informa- 
tion quarterly to Congress, so that we don't have to 
wait until the fourth quarter 
of a fiscal year to find out 
that the VA health-care 
system is in a crisis. The 
third thing I would add to 
that is, I find The American 
Legion, along with our local 
hospitals and veterans, plays 
an instrumental role in 

providing feedback to Congress on what's really 
happening in the VA system. The American Legion 
was an instrumental partner in passing the largest 
increase in VA health-care benefits funding in the 
77-year history of VA. The American Legion really 
does make a difference - a big difference. 

Eleven days after (former) Secretary (Jim) 
Nicholson was confirmed, he said the VA health- 
care system had all the money it needed. I said, 
"Well sir, with all due respect, your staff has not 
given you the true facts." 

I knew that to be the case, because I had heard 
from The American Legion and from our local 
veterans, and from employees working in the VA 
hospitals. Those three things - adequate budgets, 
quarterly reports from VA, and constant outreach 
at the grass-roots level - are the way we prevent a 
repeat of a VA health-care system in crisis. 

Q: What are some of the most important accomplish- 
ments for veterans so far from the 110th Congress? 
A: We increased funding for VA more in one year 
than in the previous six years in Congress. By the 
end of this year, we will have increased it more in 
two years than in the previous 12. Most of that 
funding was focused on improving VA health care. 
As a result, VA has hired 1,335 new doctors and 
4,968 new nurses and nurse assistants. They are in 
the process of plussing up medical-services person- 
nel by 15,000. What that means to an individual 
veteran is better health care and shorter waiting 
times for their medical services. 

We provided a huge increase, and an important 
one, for VA mental health-care services because of 
the needs of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans 
coming home. We added funding for 3,100 new 
claims processors to reduce the unfair six-month 
waiting times for veterans to have their 



"It 's just flat unfair to say that 
a veteran in some parts of the 
country, making $30,000 a year, 
is too wealthy to receive 
VA health care" 



benefits decided. For the first time since 1979, 
we increased VA gas mileage, from 11 cents to 
28.5 cents per mile, for veterans who have to drive 
long distances to receive their care. To some 
veterans, that may not seem like a lot. For some 
veterans, it's the difference between being able to 
afford to go to the VA hospital or not. We increased 
medical research, in real 
dollars, above inflation for the 
first time in over a decade. 
We committed over $1 billion 
for major construction 
projects to ensure we don't 
have a Walter Reed Annex 18 
tragedy at VA. Those are just 
some of the things. 



Q: Do you foresee a day when all veterans are once 
again allowed to use VA health-care services? 
A: Yes, I do. We can't do it overnight, because it 
would result in a massive increase in waiting times 
and a reduction in the quality of health care for 
veterans. But I am hoping that the unprecedented 
increases for VA hospitals in our last budget was 
the first step toward opening up our hospitals to 
more veterans. It's just flat unfair to say that a 
veteran in some parts of the country, making 
$30,000 a year, is too wealthy to receive VA health 
care. His neighbor might be making $150,000 a 
year because he didn't make the sacrifices of 
service that a veteran did. I am hopeful we can 
start phasing in higher-income thresholds. 

Q: What about mandatory funding? 
A: The ultimate goal is to adequately fund VA and 
to do it on a timely basis. Mandatory funding 
could be a plus or a minus. If mandatory VA 
health-care funding had been in place last year, 
the pay-as-you-go rules would have made it 
virtually impossible to provide an $11.8-billion 
increase in VA discretionary spending. The goal of 
mandatory funding - adequate funding and 
funding on time - is absolutely laudable, and I 
support that goal 100 percent. We could continue 
to have unprecedented increases in VA funding 
through the appropriations process. And if we 
could get that funding on time each year, then a 
case could be made that would be more beneficial 
to veterans. I am glad The American Legion has 
pushed the goal of mandatory funding, because 
that puts pressure on Congress to increase VA 
funding and do a better job of getting these bills 
passed on time. II 

-JeffStoffer 



48 THE AMERICAN LEGION MAGAZINE | SEPTEMBER 2008 



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RAPID FIRE 




THE ERA IN WHICH WE LIVE 

"This is an unusual era in which we live, defined on September the 1 1th, 2001. See, 
that's a date that reminded us the world had changed significantly from what we 
thought the world was. We thought that oceans and friendly neighbors could protect 
us from attack. And, yet, on that day, less than 20 miles from this post, an airplane 
crashed into the Pentagon and killed 184 men, women and children. An airplane 

driven by fanatics and extremists and murderers 
crashed into the Pentagon. And as you know, on 
that day nearly 3,000 people died in New York. And 
more would have died had not the people on United 
Flight 93 showed incredible courage and saved no 
telling how many lives here in Washington, D.C., by 
taking that plane to the ground. 

"My attitude about the world changed, and I 
know the attitude about the world from a lot of 
folks here in America changed. It reminded me that 
the most solemn duty of your federal government is 
to protect the American people from harm. The most solemn duty we have is to protect 
this homeland. I vowed that day that we would go on the offense against an enemy... 
the best way to defeat this enemy is to find them overseas and bring them to justice so 
they will not hurt the folks here at home. In other words, we don't have the luxury of 
hoping for the best, of sitting back and being passive in the face of this threat. In the 
past, we would say oceans would protect us and, therefore, what happened overseas 
may not matter here at home. That's what changed on September the 11th. What 
happens overseas affects the security of the United States. And it's in this nation's 
interest that we go on the offense and stay on the offense. We want to defeat them 
there, so we don't have to face them here. 

President George W. Bush, speaking at American Legion Post 177, Fairfax, Va., April 10, 2007 



EMBERING 



[AMERICANISM] 

Tennessee teen elected Boys Nation president 

A Tennessee high-school student was elected president and a New Jersey 
teen vice president of The American Legion's 62nd Boys Nation at Marymount 
University in Arlington, Va., in late July. 

Joseph Riley of Etowah, Tenn., was elected 
president. The 18-year-old son of Craig and Becky 
Riley served as class president and student body 
president at McMinn Central High School, as well as 
Tennessee 4-H governor. He plans to study law and 
enter the JAG Corps. 

"I've been interested in leadership and politics 
since I was about 6 or 7 years old," said Riley, who 
was sponsored by American Legion Post 248 in 
Etowah. "It feels pretty wonderful to be elected 
president of Boys Nation." 

Dominick LoBraico of Shrewsbury, N.J., was 
elected Boys Nation vice president. He was sponsored by American Legion Post 
168 in Red Bank. 

American Legion National Commander Marty Conatser spoke to Boys Nation 
at Greenbelt American Legion Post 136 in Maryland on July 20. The next day, 
Conatser and the Legion's national chaplain, Elliott Foss, joined two Boys 
Nation senators in laying a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery's Tomb of 
the Unknowns. 

The American Legion founded Boys Nation in 1946 to provide young men 
with a meaningful understanding of our nation's political process. 




[MILITARY AFFAIRS] 

Meet 'Crusher' 

The Defense Advanced Research 
Projects Agency has unveiled 
"Crusher," an unmanned and - in the 
assessment of one report - "nearly 
unstoppable" vehicle, designed to 
prowl enemy-occupied cities and 
urban war zones. 

According to a Fox News report, the 
7-ton, six-wheeled ground- 
reconnaissance vehicle is equipped 
with GPS sensors and cameras that 
allow it to see enemy troops from 
2.5 miles. It can travel 25 mph, be 
remotely operated, and withstand 
blasts that would destroy a Humvee 
- and kill or paralyze U.S. troops. 

In a testament to American 
ingenuity and practicality, Crusher 
uses a diesel engine from a 
Volkswagen Jetta, parts of an Apple 
iPhone for internal diagnostics, and 
an Xbox 360 video-game controller 
for manipulating its cameras, raising 
its antenna and firing its weapons. 



50 THE AMERICAN LEGION MAGAZINE | SEPTEMBER 2008 



THE POWER OF A POST 

Terrorist attacks could not keep Manhattan Legionnaires down. 



SEAN POWERS had seen his share of tragedy. The 
former U.S. Army warrant officer served for 
10 years in the New York Police Department. But 
the events of Sept. 11, 2001, went beyond anything 
he could ever have imagined. Powers lost several 
friends in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade 
Center. Among the victims were two police officers 
he considered close friends. He spent the weeks 
following 9/11, both on his police shift as a heli- 
copter pilot and in his time off, helping rescue 
efforts in the smoldering cavity of lower Manhat- 
tan they called "the pit." 

"When they changed it from 'rescue' to 'retriev- 
al,' I was done with that," says Powers, who later 
retired from the department after four knee 
surgeries and now serves as commander of Ameri- 
can Legion Post 1870 on board the USS Intrepid. 
For decades before 9/11, the famed Downtown 
Athletic Club - home to college football's Heisman 
Trophy - had given Post 1870 a place to meet in the 
heart of the financial district. The relationship 
between the post and the Downtown Athletic Club 
could be traced back to 1948. Many charter mem- 
bers of the Legion post were also DAC members. 



The attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, so badly damaged 
the club that it was forced to close and eventually 
file for bankruptcy. Post 1870 began meeting in 
various restaurants - "very expensive restaurants," 
says Powers, who joined the post in 2002 and has 
served four years as commander. 

In early 2005, Post 1870's current vice command- 
er, Ralph Slane, came up with the idea to see if 
Legion meetings could be conducted on board New 
York's aircraft carrier-turned-museum, the USS 
Intrepid. Slane once served on the carrier. The idea 
led to an agreement with the USS Intrepid Associa- 
tion and the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum. 

"We have a very symbiotic relationship with the 
Intrepid folks," says Powers, 45, who was in the 
Army from 1982 to 1988. "There are former crew- 
members of the Intrepid who are members of our 
post. It's a positive relationship for both sides." 

With nearly 90 members, Post 1870 has long 
sponsored events and fundraisers for veterans and 
their families, including a Department of New York 
Legion College honorarium named for former post 
commander Tony Tucillo. The post also works with 

CONTINUED ON PAGE 52 



[TROOP SUPPORT] 

Clip a coupon, support a soldier 

There are many ways to serve our country. Some do 
it with weapons, and as The Washington Post reports, 
some do it with scissors and coupons. Across the country, "a 
small army of old ladies determined to do their part in the 
war on terror" clips hundreds of coupons every day for 
deployed military personnel and their families to use at 
commissaries around the world, saving millions on much- 



needed food and household and personal items. Many of 
these "scissor warriors" meet at places such as American 
Legion Post 136 in Greenbelt, Md., where women of the 
Auxiliary gather every Tuesday to clip coupons. The 
American Legion Auxiliary's national headquarters estimates 
that up to $54 million in coupons is sent to deployed 
personnel and their families annually. 



[ACTIVE DUTY] 

Pick a card, stop a terrorist 

Thanks to a joint DoD-Colorado State University project, some 50,000 decks of playing cards, 
with depictions of antiquities, artifacts and archeological sites, are helping U.S. forces prevent 
unnecessary damage to ancient sites and curb the illegal trade of stolen artifacts. Each suit has 
a specially tailored theme: diamonds for artifacts and treasures, spades for historical sites and 
archeological digs, hearts for winning hearts and minds, and clubs for heritage preservation. 

The cards could help serve U.S. military and security interests, as well as Iraq's desire to 
recover treasure stolen in postwar looting. Marine Corps Reserve Col. Matthew Bogdanos, who 
helped recover many of the looted materials and wrote a book on the mission ("Thieves of 
Baghdad"), argues that insurgent groups use looted artifacts to finance their attacks. "They 
don't have opium in Iraq," he told The Associated Press, referring to how the insurgency is 
being funded in Afghanistan. "What they have is an almost limitless supply of antiquities." 



SEPTEMBER 2008 THE AMERICA 





RAPID FIRE 



REMEMBERING £j J J FROM PAGE 51 

local VA facilities to provide needed comfort and 
care items for veterans. 

The post's biggest annual event is Fleet Week, 
when New York City hosts thousands of sailors, 
Marines and Coast Guardsmen, honoring their 
service the week before Memorial Day. The cel- 
ebration, which started in 1984, includes dozens of 
military demonstrations and displays, as well as 
public tours of participat- 
ing ships. More than 4,000 
servicemembers came to 
New York City during 
Fleet Week 2008. 

For 14 years, Post 1870 
has hosted a Commanding 
Officers Reception at the 
conclusion of Fleet Week. 
The post organizes a dinner and celebratory night 
at The Water Club for senior and commanding 
officers. Earlier in the week, Past Post Commander 
James G. Kennedy hosts a barbecue for noncom- 
missioned officers. 

The Commanding Officers Reception is a major 
fundraiser for the post, bringing in $35,000 this 
year alone and more than $250,000 since it started. 

CONTINUED ON PAGE 54 




THE HISTORY OF THE INTREPID 

The 900-foot-long Essex-class aircraft carrier Intrepid 
was commissioned by the U.S. Navy in 1943. Known as 
the "Fighting I" by the Navy and "the Ghost Ship" by 
the Japanese, the Intrepid survived one torpedo hit, 
five kamikaze strikes and seven bomb attacks during 
World War II. 

On Oct. 29, 1944, Intrepid escaped serious damage 
from kamikaze attacks, thanks to a 20-man gun crew 
made up of black and Latino 
mess-cook volunteer gunners, 10 of 
whom lost their lives. 

During the 1960s, Intrepid served 
as NASA's primary recovery ship for 
the Mercury and Gemini missions. 
She also served three combat tours 
during the Vietnam War. 

Intrepid was decommissioned in 
1974. Two years later, she was 
designated as the official U.S. Navy and Marine Corps 
Bicentennial Exposition Vessel, participating in the 
celebration of both the nation's and the U.S. Navy's 200th 
birthday. Destined for the scrap yard a year later, Intrepid 
was rescued by Zachary Fisher, who established the 
Intrepid Museum Foundation in 1978 for the sole purpose 
of "saving the Intrepid for generations to come." 

On Aug. 4, 1982, the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum 
opened to the public at New York City's Pier 86. 



[HOMELESS VETERANS] 



Operation Heartland lends a hand to homeless vets 



Thanks to the awareness generated by a pair of 
Air Force veterans, a charity devoted to helping 
homeless veterans has raised more than $200,000 
in gifts and goods to furnish a new facility for 
veterans moving from the streets to 
self-sufficiency. 

It all began when Scott and Katie 
Taylor contacted ABC affiliate 
WRTV-6 to nominate Helping Homeless Veterans 
and Families (HVAF) for the Indiana edition of 
"Oprah's Big Give/' Just three weeks later, a seed 
grant of $5,000 had blossomed into a campaign 
known as "Operation Heartland" that raised about 
$110,000 in cash donations and more than $90,000 
in contributions of furniture, linens, and other 
goods and services. 

The funds and gifts are being used to furnish 
HVAF's Donald W. Moreau Sr. Veterans House, a 
40-apartment facility in Indianapolis. 

"All we wanted to do initially was shine a light 
on the good work of HVAF and the plight of 
homeless veterans," Katie explains. 



The Taylors are both proud veterans, former 

F-15E pilots and Air Force Academy alums. 

"They did a great job raising awareness of HVAF 

and of the needs of homeless veterans," says 

Charles Haenlein, HVAF president 
FOR MORE INFORMATION and whQ noteg that HVAFs 

www.hvaf.org/operation , , . , . , 

m ~ donor, volunteer and support bases 

heartland. html , . . . . 

have expanded since the campaign. 

"Helping HVAF allowed the best of Indiana to 
come together," Katie says. That included firms 
such as FedEx and organizations like the India- 
napolis Colts, Indiana Pacers, American Legion 
Post 155 in Carmel and others. 

Katie's brother, who flies F-16s in Iraq, is sending 
U.S. Flags back home for groups that donated to 
Operation Heartland. 

The new apartment building is named after a 
longtime veterans advocate and is the work of 
many helping hands, including VA, United Way, 
Indianapolis Housing Trust Fund and Operation 
Heartland. 

- Alan W. Dowd 



52 



THE AMERICAN LEGION MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER 2008 



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REMEMBERING & j FROM PAGE 52 
The money goes toward VA medical facilities, 
scholarships, the purchase of wheelchairs for 
disabled veterans, and the Intrepid Fallen Heroes 
Fund, which has provided nearly $60 million in 
support for the families of U.S. military personnel 
killed on active duty, and for severely wounded 
military personnel and veterans. 

The reception requires a team effort. Kennedy is 
chairman of James G. Kennedy Co., a New York- 
based construction company; Past Post 1870 
Commander Roger Norton is the company's CEO. 
Both make financial contributions to the event, 
along with Past Post 1870 Commander Richie 
Bisso, who owns a plumbing company. 

Bottom line: an act of terrorism could not keep 
this New York City post from coming back to life 
and resuming its place in the community. Powers 
admits there was some talk of shutting down the 
post after 9/11, but its members persevered. 

"I think what we have here is a post that is so 
tight-knit," he says. "These guys are more service- 
oriented than looking for a social membership. We 
don't have a post facility. We don't have a hall. We 
just have guys looking for some way to help." 

- Steve Brooks 



THE UNFORGETTABLE FLIGHT 

California Legionnaire leads effort, locally and 
nationally, to honor the heroism of Flight 93. 

IT WASN'T UNTIL HIJACKERS commandeered United 
Airlines Flight 93 on Sept. 11, 2001, that passen- 
gers learned through frantic phone calls to 
family and friends on the ground that terrorists 
had flown planes into the twin towers of the 
World Trade Center and FIND OUT MORE 
the Pentagon. In an 

effort to reclaim control " nion Cit , y Flight 93 
of their plane, passen- 
gers and crew launched 
an attack against their 
captors. Their counter- 
assault sent the aircraft 
plummeting into a reclaimed strip mine near 
rural Shanksville, Pa., killing everyone on board. 

The bravery demonstrated by the passengers 
and crew of Flight 93 sent a ripple of patriotic 
pride across the United States. Michael L. 
Emerson, a member of American Legion Post 
649 in Castro Valley, Calif., was so struck by 
their act of courage and sacrifice that he wanted 



Memorial 
www. 93memorial.com 

National Memorial in 
Shanksville, Pa. 
www.honorflight93.org 



The American Legion's national insurance programs to change 



Periodically, The American Legion 
reviews its insurance programs to 
ensure that Legionnaires are 
offered the best possible coverage 
at competitive rates. Accordingly, 
The American Legion recently 
sought competitive bids for the 
brokerage and administrative 
service for insurance plans offered 
by the national American Legion. 
After a comprehensive review of 
all bids, Gallagher Benefit Services 
was selected as the new broker 
effective June 1,2008. 

As the transition process began, a 
number of problems arose with 
the former broker and 
administrator. As part of the 
transition to the new broker, The 
American Legion must ensure that 
it has an accurate record of all 
insureds. 



If you are insured under any of the following national insurance programs, you 
can help assist with the transition: 



Coverage through ING Insurance 

Modern Vets Life 
Senior Term Life 
Term Life 

Coverage through Union Fidelity 

Birthday Life 



You can help by doing any of the following: 
Provide the following 
information (by phone, e-mail, U.S. 
Postal Service or fax as noted below) 

Insured's name 

Member ID 

Date of birth 

Type/name of insurance policy 



Coverage through 
Hartford Insurance 

TRICARE Supplement Plan 
Short Term Recovery 
Accidental Death and 
Dismemberment (AD&D) 
Hospital Income 
Travel Accident 

CALL: (888) 233-1633 
e-mail: mbrben@legion.org 

MAIL TO: 

Member Benefits/Insurance 
5745 Lee Road 
Indianapolis, IN 46216 



FAX: (317) 860-3001 

(Attn: Member Benefits/Insurance) 

Thank you for your continued support and assistance in providing the 
information we need in order to serve you better. 



54 THE AMERICAN LEGION MAGAZINE | SEPTEMBER 2008 



to do something to keep their memory alive. 

"I was concerned that the heroics aboard Flight 
93 might become a footnote to the tragedies in 
New York and Washington/' Emerson says. "Had it 
not been for passengers and crew, the White House 
or Capitol could have been destroyed. As a result 
of their act of rebellion against their hijackers, 
those aboard Flight 93 should forever be remem- 
bered as heroes." 

Emerson prepared and 
presented a hand-drawn 
sketch depicting his vision 
for a befitting memorial 
thousands of miles away 
from the crash site, in Union 
City, Calif. City officials liked 
the idea but suggested 
Emerson consult Robert 
Mowat, a local landscape 

architect, to help him refine the drawings. With 
support from the families of those who perished on 
Flight 93, Emerson resubmitted his plans, and the 
city approved the project. 

With the site chosen - Sugar Mill Landing 
Park - he led a campaign that netted more than 




$35,000 in donations, including $1,000 from his 
Legion post. Companies from four states contrib- 
uted memorial and storyboard stones, transporta- 
tion, labor and services, along with benches, 
concrete, trees, landscaping and a flagpole. 

More than $2.5 million ultimately went into the 
memorial, which was dedicated in December. 
Emerson presented a $28,000 check to Union City 
officials for future maintenance. 

Recognizing his efforts and 
accomplishments, the National 
Parks Service, at the urging of 
many Flight 93 families, 
appointed Emerson to serve on 
a steering committee to oversee 
a national memorial to Flight 93 
at Shanksville, Pa. 

"Every life is precious," he 
says. "Every hero aboard Flight 
93 had the potential to do great things. I am 
overwhelmed at how many people across the coun- 
try want to play a part, and to help us honor the 
heroes of Flight 93 in such a way that they might 
never be forgotten." 

- James V. Carroll 



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[PERSONAL COMPUTING] 

More to cut and paste 



BY REID GOLDSBOROUGH 

If you've been around computers for any period 
of time, you may think the cut-and-paste opera- 
tion is child's play. But there's more to it than 
meets the eye, and a history behind it that's 
fascinating. 

Cut and paste, and the related copy and paste, 
have been an essential part of computer-aided 
writing from the time that dedicated word proces- 
sors and then word-processing software on per- 
sonal computers began replacing electric typewrit- 
ers in the 1970s and 1980s. Being able to move or 
copy selections of text made both writing and 
editing text a great deal quicker and more efficient. 

The term "cut and paste" actually precedes the 
digital age. It originally referred to the manuscript- 
editing practice of physically cutting a paragraph 
or paragraphs with a long scissors from a page and 
physically pasting them to a different location. 

With personal-computing software, cut and 
paste didn't become standardized until the advent 
of graphical user interfaces, led by the Apple 
Macintosh, introduced in 1984. Apple, as with 
much else, copied the cut-and-paste operations 
developed at Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center. 

The Mac exposed many people to the now-famil- 
iar keyboard shortcuts of holding down a modifier 
key and pressing X for cutting the highlighted text 
(removing it), C for copying it (keeping the origi- 
nal text in place), V for pasting it, and Z for 
undoing what you did. These four keys are all 
located next to one another at the left end of the 
bottom row of standard "QWERTY" keyboards. 
Whereas the Mac today uses Command as the 
modifier key, Microsoft Windows uses Control. 

These keyboard shortcuts are a faster way of 
performing these operations than pulling down the 
Edit menu and selecting the respective procedure. 

An even faster way of cutting and pasting with 
Windows that many people don't know about: 
continuing to use the mouse after selecting the 
text by pressing the right mouse button. The first 
three options presented in the pop-up menu that 
will appear on the screen are Cut, Copy, and Paste. 
A still faster way to move text is by simply drag- 
ging selected text to its new location using your 
mouse; pressing the Control key while dragging 
copies it. 

Shortcuts for selecting text include double-click- 
ing on a word, triple-clicking on a paragraph, and 
placing the cursor at the spot where you want to 



than you think 

begin the selection, clicking inside the scroll bar to 
the right to reach the spot where you want to end 
the selection, and pressing the Shift key as you 
click on that spot. 

Today's standardized world of graphical user 
interfaces makes it possible to copy text not only 
from within a single document but also from one 
document to another even if the documents were 
created by completely different programs. Within 
Windows, holding down the Alt key and hitting 
Tab is a quick way to switch among open programs. 

Typically when you copy and paste text between 
programs, the text retains the formatting of the 
source document instead of matching the format- 
ting of the destination document. If you want to 
prevent this from happening using Microsoft Word 
(other word processors have similar procedures), 
you can pull down the Paste Special command 
from the Edit menu and select Unformatted Text. 
Or you can first paste the text to Notepad and then 
copy and paste it to your destination document. 
Both procedures also eliminate any graphics you 
may have copied. 

One common use for copying text this way is 
saving to your own hard drive text you see on a 
Web page (you can't cut text from the Web). 
Depending on your purpose, saving text in this 
manner can be both simpler and more direct than 
saving entire Web pages, bookmarking pages 
within your Web browser, or using a specialized 
Web archiving program. 

Be careful, however, about reusing any text 
verbatim that you copy from the Web. Many people 
erroneously believe that if they find something on 
the free public Internet, it's also free for taking and 
using. National and international copyright law as 
well as plagiarism rules in business and academic 
settings require certain actions. 

In a nutshell, if you reuse someone else's words, 
you should rephrase them into your own words 
unless you're quoting that person. If you reuse 
someone else's idea, you should give that person 
credit if the idea is original. General Web search 
tools such as Google or specialized anti-plagiarism 
programs can easily uncover copyright and 
plagiarism violations. 

Reid Goldsborough is a syndicated columnist 
and author of the book "Straight Talk About the 
Information Superhighway" reidgold@comcast.net, 
www. reidgoldsborough. com 



56 THE AMERICAN LEGION MAGAZINE | SEPTEMBER 2008 




[CAREERS] 

How to write winning thank-you letters 

After the interview is no time to stop selling your qualifications. In fact, 
it is precisely the right time, and the thank-you letter is just the right tool. 
However, assuming that most people will also be sending thank-you 
letters, you must know how to stand out from the crowd. Consider these 
strategies for writing your thank-you letters: 

■ If the company shared some of its challenges, 
relate how your experience ties directly to its 
needs. Example: The company is not responsive "in 
the field," to employees or customers. Write about 
how you improved field-support operations, better 
distributed resources, realigned personnel and 

JOB FRONT improved overall performance. 

■ If during the interview the company shared a 
problem it is currently working to resolve, highlight 

how you solved that same (or a similar) problem before. Example: The 
company is in the midst of a major technology upgrade that is both 
over-budget and over-schedule. Write about how you've overcome that 
same challenge, eliminated roadblocks, and delivered a stalled project 
on time and within budget. 

■ If the company communicated an objection about offering you the 
position, describe why you are the "right" candidate. Example: The 
company is concerned that all your work experience has been in the 
military. Clearly communicate - in English and not military jargon - the 
skills you have that are readily transferable, the achievements you've 
made and how they relate specifically to that company, and the overall 
strength of your "general" professional skills (e.g., planning, organization, 
resource management). 

■ Suppose there was something important that you forgot to mention 
during the interview. The thank-you letter is precisely the tool to 
communicate those achievements, experiences and qualifications. Give 
the hiring committee the "ammo" it needs to make the right hiring 
decision - you. 

Be creative, be detailed and be responsive to the company's needs, 
and watch how well thank-you letters can work for you. 

Wendy Enelow is the co-author of "Expert Resumes for Military-to-Civilian 
Transitions" and "Executive Resume Toolkit" 

www.wendyenelow.com 



[EDUCATION] 

Home sweet homeschooling 

A recent study published by the Fraser Institute reveals fascinating 
facts about the historic roots and growing influence of homeschooling. 

As recently as 1980, homeschooling was illegal in 30 states. Not until 
1993 was it legal in all 50 states. But it has exploded in the past 20 years, 
educating just 50,000 U.S. kids in 1985, 300,000 by 1992, 850,000 by 1999, 
and "perhaps as high as 2.1 million" by the mid-2000s. 

The study, "Homeschooling: From the Extreme to the Mainstream," 
notes that presidents George Washington, John Quincy Adams, Abraham 
Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and Franklin Delano 
Roosevelt were all homeschooled, as were John Jay, Thomas Edison, 
Robert E. Lee, Booker T. Washington, Mark Twain and Andrew Carnegie. 

www. fraserinstitute. org 



[VERBATIM] 

"People go ape when they see it." 

Jim Alexander of Superflag, which produces gigantic 
U.S. Flags for display at sporting events 

"I grew up in a family that didn't know 
what glass ceilings were." 

Lt. Gen. Ann Dunwoody, on her recent nomination 
to become the first female four-star general in U.S. history 

"I'm sure they are watching. I'm glad they finally 
have a chance to see you, Mr. Addington, given your 
penchant for being unobtrusive." 

Rep. William Delahunt, D-Mass., to David Addington, chief of 
staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, after Addington refused 
to answer questions during a Judiciary Committee hearing, 
saying al-Qaeda might be watching on C-SPAN 

"Why don't we do away with the court system 
and go back to the Old West? You have a gun and 
I have a gun, and we'll settle in the streets." 
Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, ridiculing the U.S. Supreme Court 
ruling against the Washington, D.C., ban on handguns 

"The temptation is to kinda say, 'Maybe this isn't 
really a war. Maybe this is just a bunch of 
disgruntled folks that occasionally come and 
hurt us.' That's not the way I feel about it." 

President George W. Bush 

"If we went into a Muslim country and left 
a Bible, we would be in prison and then 
decapitated a few years later." 

Sue Ann Pieri of Houston, complaining about finding a Quran 
on her doorstep in June. The Book of Signs Foundation 
claims to have distributed 30,000 in an effort 
to educate non-Muslims about the religion. 

"It's gone completely crazy. Our computers 
and calculators can't deal with all the zeros, 
even on the cheapest products." 

Economic analyst David Moyo, 

on spiking consumer prices in Zimbabwe. Independent 
estimates put the country's inflation rate near 4 million percent. 

"I'm a victim of sexism myself all the time." 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, on whether Sen. Hillary Clinton's 
gender was a factor in her presidential campaign loss 

"Mo, I do not." 

Singer Rene Marie, when asked if she would apologize for singing 
"Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing" - often called the "black national 
anthem" - instead of "The Star-Spangled Banner" before 
Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper's State of the City address 

"I didn't even know what to do. I just started 
freaking out - screaming, yelling." 

Kyle Stansell, the son of one of three Americans rescued July 2 
after five years of captivity in Colombia. Marc Gonsalves, 
Thomas Howes and Keith Stansell were U.S. government 
contractors held hostage by the Revolutionary Armed Forces 
of Colombia, or FARC, after their plane crashed in 
a remote area of the country in February 2003. 

"Too bad that all the people who know 

how to run the country are busy driving taxicabs 

and cutting hair." 

George Burns 



SEPTEMBER 2008 | THE AMERICAN LEGION MAGAZINE 57 




[LIVING WELL] 



PERSONALIZED 
MEDICINE 



BY DR. JOEL KUPERSMITH 

It seems nearly every day brings more news about 
the potential role of genes in medicine. Consider 
these recent headlines, all of which appeared within 
a week or so of each other: "Two types of cancer 
tied to gene." "Gene linked to adult-onset obesity." 
"Gene mutation boosts leukemia drug's effect." 
"Gene test shows if cancer drugs will cure you." 
"New gene for Alzheimer's discovered." 

The list goes on. But what does this mean for 
patients? Are these discoveries being translated 
into better health care? Are we at the point where 
doctors can tailor treatment to individual patients, 
based on their personal DNA? 

The era of so-called genomic - or personalized - 
medicine is arriving slowly but surely. While it 
may take several years for the above-mentioned 
discoveries to move from the lab to the clinic, 
some past genetic research advances are already 
part of routine care. 

Doctors in VA, for example, use a genetic test to 
confirm the diagnosis of hemochromatosis, a 
hereditary condition in which iron builds up in the 
body. Other genetic tests are used to help diagnose 
Alzheimer's disease or various cancers. VA 
researchers are probing the benefits of a genetic 



[HEALTHCARE] 

Americans like their health care - but not the country's 

Despite what many pundits and policymakers claim, Americans are 
generally satisfied with their health care. The American provided a 
snapshot in a recent feature on the state of U.S. health care: 

83 PERCENT say the quality of the health care they receive 

is excellent or good 

81 PERCENT say their physical health is excellent or good 
78 PERCENT report having a routine checkup in the past year 
77 PERCENT say they are satisfied with their health care 
70 PERCENT call their coverage excellent or good 
Yet when asked about the country's health care, the picture changes: 
88 PERCENT say the health-care system needs fundamental 
changes or needs to be rebuilt entirely 
56 PERCENT say the health-care system has major problems 



[MILITARY AFFAIRS] 

Ground breaks at Bethesda 
for new Walter Reed 

DoD officials and President George W. Bush 
broke ground July 3 on a new 345-bed Walter 
Reed National Military Medical Center at 
Bethesda, Md. The project, estimated to cost 
nearly $1 billion, will unite Walter Reed Army 
hospital in Washington with the National Naval 
Medical Center in a 261,000-square-foot 
expansion that includes two new buildings. 

The American Legion opposes the closing of 
the Walter Reed hospital, calling for renovations 
to the Washington site instead. Supporters of 
the merger argue that growth is restricted at 
the historic campus in Washington. 



58 THE AMERICAN LEGION MAGAZINE | SEPTEMBER 2008 



test to personalize drug therapy for depression. 
They are studying whether the test reduces the 
risk of side effects, boosts medication adherence, 
and improves treatment outcomes for patients. 

Another sign of personalized medicine growth is 
the increasing Internet presence of companies that 
allow consumers to send in a saliva sample, then 
receive a personal DNA analysis showing their risk 
for various health conditions. Keep in mind that 
these services are still fairly expensive, and there 
are questions about whether the information 
provided is truly beneficial for consumers. For 
example, just because a person has a gene linked 
to a particular disease, it doesn't mean he or she 
will develop the condition. Many factors activate 
and deactivate genes, and scientists are just 
beginning to unravel this complex puzzle. 

Genomic Medicine and Chronic Diseases. Even 
with notable progress in some aspects of personal- 
ized medicine, there is still a long way to go before 
it is practiced widely. A study published earlier 
this year in the Journal of the American Medical 
Association, by researchers from VA and the RAND 
Corp., offered a reality check. The authors ana- 
lyzed 68 existing studies and found that, by and 
large, health-care providers in the United States 
and other developed countries are still unprepared 
to use genomics to help patients with common 
chronic illnesses, such as diabetes or heart disease. 
More education and training is needed, and 
systems need to be created to safely and efficiently 
handle genetic information. 
VA has launched an ambitious research agenda 



to address many of these issues. For example, we 
are looking at how best to incorporate genetic 
information into our state-of-the-art electronic 
medical records. 

VA researchers are also examining the many 
ethical issues involved in genetic testing. For 
example, how are DNA samples stored? Who will 
have access to the information? DNA collected 
through research studies is handled according to 
strict and clearly defined rules. But more guidance 
will be needed as genetic testing becomes a bigger 
part of routine medical care. 

VA's Genomic Medicine Program Advisory 
Committee, which includes genetics experts and 
representatives from veterans groups, is helping to 
shape VA's policies and procedures in this area. 
Guidance is also coming from a Web-based survey 
of some 900 veterans, conducted for VA by the 
Genetics and Public Policy Center at Johns Hop- 
kins University. The survey is based on results 
from earlier focus groups with veterans. 

VA's foremost concern is to protect veterans and 
handle their genetic information in a way that is 
safe and advantageous for them. This cautious 
approach will ensure that veterans reap the full 
benefits of the era of personalized medicine. 

Joel Kuper smith, M.D., is chief research and develop- 
ment officer for the Veterans Health Administration. 

This article is designed to provide general informa- 
tion. It is not intended to be, nor is it, medical 
advice. Readers should consult their physicians 
when they have health problems. 




[TECHNOLOGY] 



Wounded soldier, airman given Segways 



Two wounded veterans from Indiana 
who were seriously injured in Iraq now 
have Segways to improve their mobility. 

Army Sgt. Sean Lewis of Indianapolis 
lost his right leg and injured his left leg 
when he was struck by mortar fire. Air 
Force Tech Sgt. Adam Popp of Clarksville 
lost his right leg and suffered extensive 
injuries to the right side of his body, arm 
and face when a mine detonated while 
he was attempting to remove it. 

The Segways are gifts from Segs4Vets, 
a program run by Disability Rights 
Advocates for Technology, a charity. 



Jerry Kerr, a founder of Segs4Vets and 
a Segway user who became a 
quadriplegic after a diving accident, said, 
'The Segway gives these military 
servicemembers more independence, 
keeps them standing on their new 
prosthetic legs and out of wheelchairs. 
We are grateful for their sacrifice, and this 
is our way of saying, Thank you/" 

In two years, Segs4vets has given 148 
Segways to Iraq and Afghanistan war 
veterans, most of whom are amputees, 
and to military rehabilitation centers in 
Washington, D.C., Texas and California. 



SEPTEMBER 2008 | THE AMERICAN LEGION MAGAZINE 59 



How to submit a reunion 



The American Legion Magazine pub- 
lishes reunion notices for veterans. 
Send notices to The American Legion 
Magazine, Attn: Reunions, P.O. Box 
1055, Indianapolis, IN 46206, fax 
(317) 630-1280, e-mail reunions@legion.org 
or submit information via our Web site, 
www.legion.org/veterans/reunions. 

Include the branch of service and complete 
name of the group, no abbreviations, with your 
request. The listing also should include the 
reunion dates and city, along with a contact 
name, telephone number and e-mail address. 
Listings are publicized free of charge. 

Your notice will appear on our Web site within 
a weekand will remain available online until 
the final day of your reunion. Upon submission, 
please allow three months for your reunion to 
be published in print. Due to the large number 
of reunions, The American Legion Magazine 

AIR FORCE/ARMY AIR FORCES 

3rd Strat Support Sqdn - SAC, Fairborn, 
OH, 10/2-4, Gene VanHouten, (618) 544-5256, 
genevanhouten@hotmail.com; 5th AF 20th 
Cbt Mapping Sqdn (South Pacific), Bayville, 
NY, 10/11, Joseph Megna, (516) 628-3335, 
colavito4@optonline.net; 6th Bomb Grp 313th 
Wing, Midland, TX, 10/23-26, Bob Reagan, 
(616) 897-7515, smilerer@worldnet.att.net; 
13th AF (All Units), St. Louis, 9/17-20, Phil 
Dyer, (231) 843-9597; 28th Wing Assn, Rapid 
City, SD, 9/4-8, Lloyd Peterson, (605) 393-8545, 
alpeterson@rap.midco.net; 36th TFW/525th 
TFS, St. Charles, MO, 9/26-28, Dean Yarikunek, 
dyarolim@mail.win.org; 309th Ftr Sqdn 
(WWII), Chattanooga, TN, 9/3-7, Dalton Smith, 
(201) 244-5854; 

376th Bomb Grp 15th AF (WWII), Herndon, 
VA, 9/3-7, James Wiley, (803) 819-1612; 377th 
Sec Police Sqdn (Tan Son Nhut AB, Vietnam), 

Tampa, FL, 2/5-8, 2009, Jim Stewart, (810) 639- 
5755, jstewart@centurytel.net; 459th Bomb Grp 
Assn (WWII), Atlanta, 9/25-28, Susan Rawlston, 
(770) 934-5067, slrga@aol.com; 781st Bomb Sqdn 
465th Bomb GP Air Force (WWII), Dayton, OH, 
10/5-8, Roland Soucy, (937) 426-6314, gsoucy@ 
woh.rr.com; Air Tech Liaison Officers, San 
Antonio, 10/23-27, Robert A.E. Callanan, (972) 
816-4746, bob@callanans.org; Marksmanship, 
SAMTU/CATM Instructors, Shooters, 
Gunsmiths, Cmdrs & Support, San Antonio, 
10/10-13, Rich Arwood, 50reupoc@catm.com; 
Vietnam Sec Police Assn, Albuquerque, NM, 
10/15-18, Steve Gattis, (254) 898-2647, 
sgattis-lm49@vspa.com 

ARMY 

3rd Cav Vets Assn, Elk Grove Village, IL, 9/25-27, 
Gene Andrews, (773) 779-7786; 5th Spec Forces 
Grp Abn, Fort Campbell, KY, 9/17-19, Steven 
Mellar, (270) 956-2811, steven.mellar@us.army.mil; 
17th Sig Bn Assn, Killeen, TX, 9/18-21, Arlo 
Janssen, (703) 819-0136, adjanssen@aol.com; 
27th FA Rgt Assn (All Units), New York, 9/5-7, 
James Suessmann, (973) 742-3474, jrs.cpa@ 
verizon.net; 28th Gen Hosp (Croix Chapeau, 
France), Lafayette, LA, 10/15-18, Floyd J. Friloux 
Sr., (985) 764-6030, ffriloux@cox.net; 30th 
FA Bn, Louisville KY, 9/5-7, Jim Knapp, (502) 
412-3554, jknapp@insightbb.com; 33rd Inf Rgt 
Cbt Team (Panama), Gettysburg, PA, 10/1-5, 
Frank Ryan, (516) 541-3891, dolphindriver98@ 
yahoo.com; 70th Inf Div Assn Trailblazers, 
Erlanger, KY, 9/9-14, Andy McMahon, (803) 
754-9362, macson70@aol.com; 162nd Ord Det, 
APO US Forces 09034, Gatlinburg,TN, 10/21-23, 
Larry P. Larousse, (985) 652-6803, lplarousse@ 
louisianakc.org; 



will publish a group's listing only once a year. 

Notices should be sent at least six months prior 
to the reunion to ensure timely publication. 

Other notices 

"In Search Of" is a means of getting in touch 
with people from your unit to plan a reunion. We 
do not publish listings that seek people for 
interviews, research purposes, military pho- 
tos or help in filing a VA claim. Listings must 
include the name of the unit from which you seek 
people, the time period and the location, as well 
as a contact name, telephone number and e-mail 
address. Send notices to The American Legion 
Magazine, Attn: "In Search Of," P.O. Box 1055, 
Indianapolis, IN 46206, fax (317) 630-1280 or 
e-mail reunions@legion.org. 

The magazine will not publish names of indi- 
viduals, only the name of the unit. Listings are 
published free of charge. 

Life Membership notices are published for 
Legionnaires who have been awarded life mem- 

164th Inf Assn, Valley City, ND, 9/12-14, Patricia 
Drong, (701) 646-6561, pjdrong@ictc.com; 314th 
Inf Assn 79th Recon Trp (WWII), Gatlinburg, TN, 
9/25-28, Joe Campbell, (386) 245-8304, joewcee@ 
aol.com; 520th MP Co, SHAPE (Paris, France 
& Mons, Belgium) (All Years), Gettysburg, 
PA, 9/17-21, David Brubaker, (570) 265-9647, 
davidw069@yahoo.com; 546th AAA Bn (WWII), 
Lemars, IA, 9/26-27, Ken Lubben, (712) 546-5540; 
560th MP Co, Fort Leonard Wood, MO, 10/17-19, 
Ralph Hildebrand, (208) 870-4611, boiseman37@ 
yahoo.com; 765th Trans Railroad Serv Bn 
(Korea, 1951-1954), Salt Lake City, 9/17-20, Billy 
F. Hill, (423) 942-2644; H Trp 17th Cav Americal 
Div 198th Bde (Chu Lai, Vietnam), Warrensville, 
OH, 10/10-13, Carmen Matteo, (440) 838-0463, 
carmen.mateo@sbcglobal.net; Postal Class 
1 03 APO 3, 7, 9, 45, 500 & 503 (Korea & Japan, 
1 955-1 958), Pigeon Forge, TN, 9/21 -25, John J. 
Schwepe, (419) 422-7269, bejaydl@bright.net 

COAST GUARD 

Lightship Sailors Assn, Hyannis, MA, 
10/16-19, Jay McCarthy, (561) 495-1761, 
jfment@bellsouth.net; Loran Stn (Angaur, 

Palau), Alameda, CA, 11/13-16, T.J. Mackell, 
(925) 820-4595, tj_m@prodigy.net 

JOINT 

Cbt Heli Pilots Assn, Nashville, TN, 10/24-26, 
Rhea Rippey, (615) 356-7115, rhearippey@ 
comcast.net 

MARINES 

Echo 2nd Bn 5th Mar, San Antonio, 11/7-10, 
John Porras, (310) 995-5928, johnmp25@ 
wmconnect.com 

NAVY 

Burleson APA 67 (WWII), Branson, MO, 9/17-20, 
Billy D.Smith, (816) 524-3775; Canapus AS-34, 
Jacksonville, FL, 9/11-13, Jeanne Marie Everson, 
(727) 388-7118, as-34@hullnumber.com; Chivo 
SS-341 (1961-65), Mount Pleasant, SC, 10/2-5, 
Bart Lockwood, (941) 379-4470, glockwood2@ 
comcast.net; Cobbler SS-344, Groton, CT, 
9/23-25, Jimmy Mowry, ss-344@hullnumber.com; 
Coghlan DD 606, Las Vegas, 9/30-10/2, Pat Arone, 
(610) 574-3449, pat@aroneassociates.com; Custer 
APA 40 (WWII), Nashville, TN, 10/2-5, Dick Shaw, 
(407) 862-2903, jshawl 1 14@aol.com; Dixie AD 
14, San Diego, 9/20-24, J.T. Smith, (615) 513-2440, 
ad-14@hullnumber.com; 



berships by their posts. This does not include a 
member's own Paid-Up-For-Life membership. 

Notices must be submitted on official forms, 
which may be obtained by sending a self- 
addressed stamped envelope to The American 
Legion Magazine, Attn: Life Memberships, P.O. 
Box 1055, Indianapolis, IN 46206. 

"Comrades in Distress" listings must be 
approved by the Legion's Veterans Affairs & 
Rehabilitation division. If you are seeking to verify 
an injury received during service, contact your 
Legion department service officer for informa- 
tion on how to publish a notice. 

To respond to a "Comrades in Distress" listing, 
send a letter to The American Legion Magazine, 
Attn: Comrades in Distress, P.O. Box 1055, 
Indianapolis, IN 46206. Include the listing's CID 
number in your response. 

"Taps" notices are published only for Legion- 
naires who served as department commanders 
or national officers. 

Douglas A. Munro DE422, Nashville, TN, 
9/1 1 -1 2, J. W. Elder, (336) 674-7385, de-422@ 
hullnumber.com; Farragut Nav Tng Stn, Athol, 
ID, 9/6, Janice Lauer, (208) 660-0660; Grand 
Canyon AD/ AR 28, Indianapolis, 9/16-20, 
Robert Dunn, (317) 881-8866, robert.dunn@ 
att.net; Higgins Boat LCVP/LCM, Fort Pierce, 
FL, 10/31-11/31, Ed Brisbois, (508) 943-5173; 
Hinsdale APA 120, Branson, MO, 9/9-11, Lane 
Kunath, (712) 580-3323, klk7@smunet.net; 
Mobile CL 63, Branson, MO, 9/11-14, Don Ellis, 
(573) 348-1842, curtis@eeetourstobranson.com; 
Norris DD/DDE 859, Gulfport, LA, 10/12-15, 
Ed Mehl, (302) 541-0685, e.mehl@mchsi.com; 
Oklahoma City CL 91/CLG 5/CG 5/SSN 723, 
Cruise, Miami, FL, 11/9-14, Brian Forrester, 
(800) 998-1228, brian@cruiseholidaysaz.com; 
Randy DE 764, Fort Mitchell, KY, 9/7-11, 
Tom Lucas, (800) 603-3332; Sangamon CVE 
26, Covington, KY, 9/19-26, Don Schroeder, 
(920) 682-2013, gerrtanddon-s@sbcglobal.net; 
Theadfin SS 140, Fort Worth, TX, 9/4-7, Bart 
Lockwood, (974) 379-4470, glockwood@ 
comcast.net; VP-47, Reno, NV, 9/10-14, Maurice 
Sherman, (775) 624-0982, seavp47run@ 
sbcglobal.net; West Virginia BB 48, Colorado 
Springs, CO, 9/4-7, Joe Variot, (231) 584-2280, 
bb-48@hullnumber.com 

COMRADES IN DISTRESS 

1st Bn 36th FA (Augsbury & Reese, Germany, 
April 1974-Jan 1976). Robert Canady seeks 
witnesses to verify a PTSD claim. CID 1497 

LIFE MEMBERSHIPS 

Post 1, AK: Robert Henderson, Harold Pawson, 

William Wolter 
Post 18, AK: Joe Amato Sr., Emil Bartolowitz, 

Roger Bock, Darryl K. Cooper, David A. 

Cooper, Paul Gardner Sr., Francis D. Hanson, 

Gary Jackinskly, William D. Kvasnikoff, Don 

L. McHone, Timothy L. Meyer, Jack L. Smart, 

Albert Stufloten 
Post 21, AK: Josephine Kea 
Post 25, AK: Everett D. Bracken 
Post 35, AK: Mark Siefert 
Post 141 FL: Samuel Berkowitz 
Post 347, FL: William Berry, Peter Carston, Robert 

Ellison, Sheldon Gotesky, Clement J. Grella Jr. 
Post 39, MD: Carolynn G. Baker 
Post 273,NJ: Rodney R. Koodray 
Post 157, NY: Chris Sparsidis 



50 THE AMERICAN LEGION MAGAZINE | SEPTEMBER 2008 



IN SEARCH OF 

3rd Inf Div A Co 30th Inf, G Co 1 5th Inf (Korea 

1951-1952) & A Co 7th Inf (Fort Benning, 

GA, 1954-1956), Henry Burke, (803) 782-7517, 

pennieburke@sc.rr.com 
7th Div Football Team (Korea, 1961), James 

Copeland, (928) 726-1007 
8th & I Mar (1958-1961), John Reim, 

(856) 364-4626, jreim@aol.com 
1 6th Eng Bn E Co 1 st Armd Div (Fort Hood, TX, 

1962-1963), Edward Strawn, (281) 633-0033, 

emstrawn@comcast.net 
16th Sig Bn Bravo Co (Fort Huachuca, AZ, 

1960-1962 & Butzbach, Germany 1962-1965), 

H. Deering, (817) 454-2421, aromega@aol.com 
31st Cbt Eng Bn "Blackhorse Bearcat" 

(Phan Thiet & Phouc Vinh, Vietnam, 

1968-1969), John Frye, (941) 748-4106, 

jfryel 3@tampabay.rr.com 
57th Field Hosp (Toul, France, 1952- 

1953), Alfred Roberts, (631) 749-2050, 

henrie0419@aol.com 
77th Trans Co (La Rochell, France, 1961-1963), 

Charles Thacher, (260) 351-2503 
105th Seabees (Guiuan Samar, Philippines, 

Dec 1944), J. Hamel, dorjo2@verizon.net 
121st Sig Bn C Co 1st Inf Div (Dian Base 

Camp, Vietnam, 1969-1970), Mark Peterson, 

(609) 877-3692 
445th Ftr Sqdn (Bakersfield, CA, 1945-1946), 

Thomas A. Sykes, tasykes@toast.net 
501st Finance Co 1st AD (Furth, Germany), 

Jeanette Pohl, (772) 359-2901, pkiepert@ 

bellsouth.net 
514th Car Co (London, 1944-1945), Harold C. 

Goettner, (410) 239-3730, yancy97@aol.com 
635th Sec Police Sqdn (Utapio AB, Thailand, 

1973-1974), Robert Earl Jones, (321) 212-8761, 

sonofthunderfl@yahoo.com 



AACS, AFCS & AFCC, R. Sauer, (865) 482-301 3, 

rsauer@comcast.net 
Beachmasters WESTPAC Det 3rd Mar Div 

(Driftwood Beach, Phillipines, 1958), Francis 

Faulkner, (918) 435-4270 
C Co 128th Armd Ord Maint Bn Reserve Cmd 

6th Armd Div (Fort Leonard Wood, MO, 

July 1955), Ken E. Patterson, (636) 587-9955, 

kenelu@charter.net 
C Co 110th Inf Rgt 28th Div (Ulm, Germany, 

1951-1953), Leland Wenig, (920) 361-3071, 

jeanleewen@centurytel.net 
Explosive Ord Disposal (EOD) Assn (All 

Personnel) and Bomb & Mine Disposal 

(WWII), Bernard Diggs, (757) 481-2962, 

bdiggs3@cox.net 
HHC 4th Bn 35th Armor 4th Armd Div 

(lllishim, Germany, 1966-1970, James Willis, 

(307) 568-2890, csmwillis@yaoo.com 
Hosp Corps School Class 121 Class A School 

(Portsmouth, VA, 1952), John Gergle, 

(717) 838-4993 
LCT 1072 (Pacific, 1944-1946), Paul Gattinella, 

(401) 274-4341 
Med Sect Dispensary HQ & HQ Co 7th Inf Div 

(Camp Casey, Korea, 1961-1962), Autrey 

Doyle Jones, (601) 546-2140, ofm@netdoor.com 
Mil Assistance Advisory Grp (MAAG) 

(Saigon, Vietnam, 1956), Frank Kowalski, 

(619) 460-1248, ftkmk@cox.net 
Nav Base Peleliu (GROPAC 9) (1944-1946), 

David Anderson, (217) 344-8533, 

d_andrson@comcast.net 
Navy Acorn 33 Corpsmen (Port Huenene, 

CA & Guam, 1944-1945), Louis Haefling, 

(847) 931-7417, papalouh@aol.com 



TAPS 

James J. Castrichini, Dept. of California. Nat l 

Legis. Council Memb. 1981-1986 and 1989-1990, 
Nat'l Counter-Subversive Activ. Cmte. Memb. 

1982- 1984, Nat'l Distinguished Guests Vice 
Chmn. 1992-1994 and Nat'l Foreign Relations 
Cncl.ViceChmn. 1994-2006. 

John S. Fink, Dept. of Missouri. Nat'l & 
Homeland Sec Vice Chmn. 2004-2008. 

Donald V. Gray, Dept. of Minnesota. Nat'l 
Rehab. Cmsn. Advisory Board Memb. 1971-1975, 
Dept. Cmdr. 1975-1976 and Nat'l Internal Affairs 
Cmsn. Consultant 1977-1995. 

Robert "Bob" A. Matiasek, Dept. Florida. Nat'l 
Distinguished Guests Cmte. Memb. 1966-1968 
and 1969-1974, Nat'l Americanism Cncl. Memb. 
1968-1969, Dept. Cmdr. 1972-1973, Nat'l Foreign 
Relations Cncl. Vice Chmn. 1974-1979, Nat'l 
Counter-Subversive Activ. Cmte. Memb. 1980- 
1982, Nat'l Legis. Cncl. Memb. 1983-1986 and 
Nat'l Distinguished Guests Cmte. Vice Chmn. 

1983- 1985 and 1990-1992. 

William S. "Bill" Todd, Dept. of Tennessee. 
Nat'l Law & Order Cmte. Memb. 1951-1952, 
Nat'l Law & Order Cmte. Chmn. 1952-1953, Nat'l 
Mbrshp. & Post Activ. Cmte. Memb. 1953-1960 
and 1961-1964, Nat'l Military Affairs Cmte. 
Chmn. 1953-1954, Nat'l Naval Affairs Cmte. Vice 
Chmn. 1955-1956 and 1957-1962, Dept. Cmdr. 
1956-1957, Nat'l Exec. Cmte. Alt. 1960-1962, Nat'l 
Counter-Subversive Activ. Cmte. Memb. 1961- 

1962, Nat'l Sec. Cmsn. Liaison Cmte. Memb. 
1962-1964, Nat'l Exec. Cmte. Memb. 1962-1964, 
Nat'l Advisory Cmte. to the Nat'l Cmdr. 1962- 

1963, Nat'l Homeland Sec & Civil Preparedness 
Chmn. 1964, Nat'l American Legion Insurance 
Cmte. Chmn. 1964-1969, Nat'l American Legion 
Insurance Cmte. Memb. 1964-2005 and Nat'l 
Legis. Cncl. Vice Chmn. 1975-1980. 



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SEPTEMBER 2008 THE AMERICAN LEGION MAGAZINE 



63 



A computer does save time at work. 

I can play solitaire without having to spend 

all that time shuffling real cards. 

TWO MEN got out of their cars after they collided 
at an intersection. One took a bottle from his 
pocket and said to the other, "Here, maybe you'd 
like a nip to calm your nerves." 

"Thanks," the second man said, and took a long 
drink from the container. "Here, you have one, 
too," he added, handing back the whiskey. 

"Well, Fd rather not," the first man said. "At least 
not until after the police have been here." 

TOLD TO TREAT his military housing as he would 
if he owned it, the Navy chief quickly mounted a 
sign in the front yard: "For Sale." 

KITCHEN SIGNS 

■ I came, I saw, I decided to order take-out. 

■ Countless people have eaten in this kitchen and 
gone on to lead normal lives. 

■ Thou shalt not weigh more than thy refrigerator. 

■ Fd cook dinner, but I can't find the can opener. 

■ My next house will have only vending machines. 

THE JUDGE said to the defendant, "I thought I 
told you I never wanted to see you in here again." 

"Your honor," the defendant said, "that's 
what I tried to tell the police, but they just 
wouldn't listen." 





"I asked for ballpark figures, Wilkerson. 
These are golf scores." 




"Promise to tell the truth, including the parts you'd 
prefer to keep for an upcoming book or movie deal?" 



"EBusiness is slow. Do your stuff." 

AN OLD WOMAN called a furnace repairman, who 
put oil in the motor and charged her $80 for labor. 
"But it only took you five minutes!" she exclaimed. 

The repairman explained that his company had a 
minimum one-hour charge on every house call. 

"Well, I want my remaining 55 minutes of labor," 
the lady replied, handing him a rake. 

"THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY announced this week 
that Barack Obama will give his acceptance speech 
at an 80,000-seat stadium, and that they will not 
serve fried food at the Democratic convention. 
Those are the two things they announced. 
Yeah, which begs the question: where are they 
gonna find 80,000 Americans who don't eat fried 
food? It's not gonna happen." - Conan O'Brien 



g4 THE AMERICAN LEGION MAGAZINE | SEPTEMBER 2008 




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